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The Difference Hope Makes
By Dave DussaultHave you noticed it’s getting darker? No, it’s not the time change and the sun going down earlier. There’s an increase in spiritual darkness—like the growing preference for Halloween over Christmas. The Christian faith has gone from passé to suspect, as American culture increasingly defines freedom as doing what I want without interference, rather than the right to govern myself. Individual desires and drives are being unleashed and taking control—forces that undermine life, vitality, and true freedom.

The world is not pretty much okay—maybe in need of an adjustment here and there but not too far off. That delusion needs to have some light shined on it—true light, harsh but revealing—to help the world know just how dark things really are. We need the light of truth, righteousness, but above all hope.

That’s where we come in. When Jesus said, You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), He was calling His people out and giving us an assignment. He put us on a lampstand so we can shine. His words, You are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), echo the same idea of penetrating distinctness. God’s people are different to make a difference. We’re in the world but not of it. We penetrate and illuminate.

So what’s the difference? Hope. Christians show the world that sin does not have to be in control. The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:11). The Holy Spirit is working in every believer, empowering righteousness, purity, and holiness.

God not only tells us how to be pure. He enables us to live as we should. His grace gives hope by making holiness “doable” for the believer. God calls Christians to holiness, so the world can see what holiness is like and that in Christ it’s possible.

While the world has given in to sin and given up fighting the evil within us, Christians bring the hope of holiness. We make a difference by being different. At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. We shine the light of holiness and hope when we walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8).

Two thousand years ago, God revealed His righteousness in Christ. Jesus’ life displayed the perfect standard by which God will judge everyone on earth. But His grace appeared to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). God now reveals His righteousness in us.

When Christ entered our world the first time, it pined in the same darkness we face today. As we anticipate the coming Christmas holiday and prepare to celebrate that first Christmas, we shine the light of hope. The Baby in the manger will come again to reign on earth and make the world the way it should be, to the praise of His glory.

Prayer for Today

Ask God to send revival. Pray that it will be deep, making the love of God the fountain of everything that Christians desire. Ask God to make the coming revival wide, extending to Christians all around the world. Pray that it will be high, exalting Christ above all the leaders and powers of the earth. Pray for it to last long and shape world history for centuries to come.

Pray also for revival to come to Northpoint, moving each person in our body to seek Christ in prayer and the study of God’s Word. Ask God to draw us to Himself and into the world, serving His kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And pray for this revival to take effect, not only in our church leaders but in us as a congregation as well.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

 

11.29.2018

Unwrapping God’s Perfect Gift
From Dave Dussault

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible Gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:15

The entire Bible tells us about who God is and His plan to redeem our lost world. He accomplished that plan through Jesus—God’s only Son, wrapped in flesh. Jesus is the greatest gift there ever was, sent directly from God. Take some time to reflect on who Jesus is and all we have in Him.

Sufficient: We have everything we will ever need through Christ—Really!
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Enrichment: In God’s plan, multiplied thanks come from His multiplied blessings.
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11).

Light and Life: Unconquerable Light and Life are in Christ and ours through Him.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5).

Abundant Grace: We receive everything through Christ, including grace to enjoy it.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16).

God in Flesh: Christ created the world, is not of this world, but He became one of us to redeem us.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Lamb of God: Christ alone takes away the sin of the world, by His death on the cross.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)!

Risen Savior: Through Jesus’ resurrection, we are born again to a living hope.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Our Keeper: Jesus guards and keeps us on our way to heaven.
To an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:4).

Prophetically Promised: Christ Jesus is God’s long-promised King.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2).

Assurance of All We Need: Christ gives us certainty that God will meet our every need.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

Greif Bearer: On the cross, Jesus bore our sins and sorrows.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Guilt Bearer: On the cross, Jesus took our punishment.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Heart of God’s Redemptive Plan: God promised Jesus at the beginning of time.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).

Conquering King: Jesus is God’s Triumphant Ruler who will rule with perfect justice.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal  of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Coming King: All our hope is in Christ’s return in glory.
This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).

Righteous Judge: When Christ returns there will be a day of perfectly just judgment.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:31-33).

Worthy Ruler: Jesus Christ is the only One in heaven and earth who Is worthy to reign.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12)!

Our world is temporary and troubled. Christ is the eternal Prince of Peace. Let Him dominate your focus during this holiday season. Or, in the words of Helen Howarth Lemmel:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His Glory and Grace.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

11.22.2018

Something to Thank About
From Dave Dussault

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble … He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!Psalm 107:1-2, 15-16

You may not have noticed it. You may even wish it didn’t happen, but this morning … you woke up! You have received a gift—a new day—today. Thank God!

Some days are challenging. Some are difficult. Most seem ordinary. Some days are important—even monumental. But every day is a tailor-made gift from God, worth thanking Him for. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). Now that’s a good command to obey.

Thanksgiving Day is significant for countless reasons. It’s a national holiday, focusing us as a people on gratitude toward God. It’s a reminder—not of pilgrims and turkeys—but of God’s mighty hand providing for His children and the founding of our country. It’s a spur to God’s people to say “Thank You” for all He’s done and all He’s doing.

The word “thank” is similar to the word “praise” but not the same. To “praise” means to brag about how wonderful someone is. To “thank” someone means to acknowledge something they’ve done. While “praise” boasts, “thanks” recognizes. Thanks” connects something good to its source and gives credit.

As God’s church, we are called to open the eyes of the blind and set prisoners free, to inform the ignorant and remind the forgetful. Christ has reconnected us to the God who made us. Our job is to help others make that connection, and the practice of giving thanks keeps the connection alive. It opens our eyes to the daily miracles of God’s providence, so we can see His hand in everything that happens—even if it’s just the dawn of a new day.

Today, for example. The sun comes up on a world of dazzling beauty. God created it and gave us eyes to see it. Stars march through the night sky with astounding regularity. The sun runs its course over a skyline no sculptor could imitate. Rivers flow through lush valleys as birds sing in delight. Each day gives
us people to engage, friends to enjoy, and family to love. Work brings us things to do, challenges to take on, and meaning to our activity. So we thank God for each new day.

Life, though, is a good-news-bad-news proposition. Death is a reality we can ignore but not avoid. The evil we see and pain we feel tells us that all is not right with the world. Sin—our fatal disconnection from God—is a carefully concealed but undeniable, unavoidable, and unconquerable reality. But Christ has overcome the sin that broke our world and the death that haunts our days. That fact is the fountain of all thanks.

The Good News of redemption in Christ has steadily advanced from the first Pentecost to this day. From Jerusalem to Corona, Christ has built His Church just as He said He would. The gates of hell have not prevailed against missionaries who spread God’s Word, monarchs who forged its truth into structured society, and martyrs who gave their lives to spread the gospel across the world. And so we say thanks.

Thanks acknowledges Christ’s triumph even when the church turns on itself. Both Catholics and Protestants have persecuted the faithful, yet the truth has more than survived. Persecution has driven God’s people throughout the world. It was the state church that chased the pilgrims to America. More than stiff, stilted figures, with blunder busts and strange speech, the pilgrims were real people running for their lives and searching for freedom. Their quest was for all we abundantly enjoy today.

What God gave them He gave us. Free worship. Abundant easts. Self-determination and self-governance. The right to decide for ourselves and pursue God’s leading without government interference. And so we say thanks to God from whom all blessings flow. He loves to bless and provide for His own, even though we don’t deserve it. And we have been blessed and will be blessed to the praise of His glory.

Noticing God’s Blessings

It’s often difficult to take time, but it’s so worthwhile. Busyness can be blinding, and there are forces at work to keep our eyes off our good God. Making time to give thanks is a deliberate process that brings rich rewards. It connects us to our God and Maker. It enables us to see His providing hand and sense His presence. Time with God is precious and essential, so be sure to make room for your Maker.

Think through some specific ways God has blessed you and give Him thanks. Maybe the video in this link will help.

Giving Thanks

  • Spiritual: In what ways has God blessed you in your relationship with Him?
  • Relational: Identify friends and family members God has used to bless you.
  • Physical: Notice God’s hand in your health and your life situation.
  • Social: How has God blessed you with freedom and opportunity, goals and ambitions and success?
  • Financial: How does God provide for you financially, even when you’re in need?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. – Ephesians 1:3-4

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

11.15.2018

“We Are Responding”
From the EFCA

In what has amounted to the deadliest wildfire in California history, 90 percent of Paradise, California, has been destroyed. More than 7,600 single-family homes and 260 commercial structures burnt to the ground. Forty-eight lives lost and hundreds more missing.

The following is an excerpt from a blog post written by Mark Lewis, director of EFCA Crisis Response, after he witnessed the aftermath of the wildfire:

“Black. Gray. White. Brown. The colors of the burn area. The landscape is charred. After 15 minutes of driving, we start to see the remains of cooked cars and piles of ash and twisted metal marking the remains of buildings. Brick chimneys stand like tombstones over the remains of still smoldering homes, neighborhood after neighborhood, for mile after mile.”

Eighty homes of EFCA congregants were destroyed by the fire, leaving just two families from Paradise EFC with homes to which to return. Eighty families displaced and facing the prospect of a nearly impossible rebuild. Still, by the grace of God, all the congregants’ lives were spared. From the ashes, God has provided hope.

As you read this, Crisis Response and the EFCA Western District are collaborating to mobilize response efforts in Paradise. Our ReachGlobal Crisis Response team is currently on the ground, responding to this horrific loss of life and property in Northern California. Along with the physical restoration, the team is focusing specifically on trauma care – providing support, counseling and love to those who experienced this disaster firsthand.

Support the Response

We’re responding, but we need your help. Amid this devastating crisis, there also lies significant opportunity. The people of Paradise, California, need the hope, love and overwhelming peace of Jesus Christ.

Will you join us, then, in coming alongside the people of Paradise, California? In response to this disaster, we need prayer, financial support and for the word to be spread:

Pray. Pray God’s peace, comfort, hope and restoration over Pastor Art Worthington, Paradise EFC and all those affected by the fire in the Paradise community. Pray also for God’s wisdom, guidance and strength for those currently on the ground responding.

Give. After Hurricane Harvey – by God’s grace – you contributed more than $1.6 million for relief efforts. The devastation of the Paradise wildfire has been even more catastrophic on our EFCA family. We need your financial support to bring restoration to Paradise.

Share. To help us spread awareness of this need, we ask that you’d share this message with your church body and dedicate a special offering to help those affected by this wildfire. To help you do so, we’ve provided: the video below (available for download on Vimeo), a bulletin insert and several prayer requests.

More information will be available in the coming days. For updates on our response to the Paradise wildfire and to get involved, visit https://www.efca.org/california-wildfire-response.

Despite the brokenness of this world, we have a sovereign God who loves, cares and restores. Amid this tragedy, let us take hope in our unchanging Savior. May God be glorified in the midst of this disaster.

Donate now.

 11.8.2018

Building a Legacy That Lasts
By Pastor Taylor Mendoza

Hello Church Family,

A leadership guru, John Maxwell, once said that good leadership is influence, but great leadership is determined by the leader’s legacy. Legacy is what a leader leaves behind after he is gone. Legacy is the real proof test of whether or not that leader was great. Legacies that last require hard work on our part. Further, legacies that last require that we pour into someone who will outlive us.

Death is the great equalizer of all of humanity, and since no one will escape it, we ought to come to grips with the fact that we will eventually go home and be with the Lord. However, the question of our legacy will still stand years after we have gone. Our legacy will depend on whether or not we raised the next generation in the gospel. We do this by being parents. Not everyone is in the same stage of life, yet the church as a whole (elderly, parents, singles, and youth) is responsible for building a legacy that lasts. How do we do that? Here are some thoughts worth considering.

1. Pass the Baton.
The most essential thing for building a legacy that lasts is passing the baton from your own life to the next generation. Much like a relay race during a track and field event, each person must recognize that they have one section of the race. And so it must go throughout human history. This was the heart of the apostle Paul who, over 2,000 years ago, taught his disciples the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then likewise, encouraged his pupils to do the same to the next generation. Paul told Timothy: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

Teaching the next generation the wonderful truths of the gospel shouldn’t be a secondary and helpful thing, but a primary one. Some may object by saying that being youth-orientated will lead the church to adopt seeker-sensitive models of ministry in order to attract more young people. But the church doesn’t need to do that. Paul did not tell Timothy to be youth-orientated, but to be gospel-orientated.

To be gospel-orientated in discipleship is to be youth-orientated biblically because we recognize that the kingdom of God is bigger than our preferences and lives. Theologian, Owen Strachan, once called on the church to risk being youth-orientated, so as to build strong families. This is a risk because you have to be willing to trade in your dreams of self-driven comfort, ease, quiet, mobility, and indulgence for the self-sacrificial but far more enjoyable goal of leading a generation to know and worship God and to glorify him. So my question to you is: Where are you passing the baton?

2. Live and demonstrate your joy in God at home and church.
Little people are always watching. Youth today are feeling the pressures of what can be called “achievement-orientated” families. This occurs in both biological families and the family of God. How does a family become achievement-orientated? If your first priority is saving up for college and retirement—good things to do!—then you’ll naturally make the family a place of achievement. The Christian family is not scared of “success,” of money, good grades, and a two-car garage. These can be blessings from God, yet there are far more important concerns.
The family is created by God, and the Christian family is devoted to God in the church and in the home. This is an issue of keeping the main thing the main thing. Every family should not be achievement-orientated, but worship-orientated. David once remarked in Psalm 16, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The presence of God and the joy that came in being in his presence was the ultimate priority of David’s life. In the Westminster Catechism, we read that the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

If you were given the opportunity to ask your children, or the next generation at Northpoint, to name the chief end of the family, or of the church, what would they say? Would it be: “The chief end of this family and this church is to glorify God and enjoy him forever?” No doubt it is a high calling, yet it is the most rewarding. Remember little people are always watching!

3. Get them to Church.
Lastly, the discipline of getting the next generation into the church is the secret for building a legacy that lasts. John said, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (1 John 5:2). Later he said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (5:21). Our love for the children of God (all believers) is displayed by our love for God and obedience to his commands. We avoid idolatry and protect our hearts from loving other things other than God. We certainly have a mandate to help the next generation understand and practice the same thing.

The late Eugene Peterson once wrote a book entitled, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” That title says it all: discipleship is long. If you have children, get them to church. The fellowship that they will have, even if they do not like it, will help them understand the love of God and will protect them from idolatry. Do not give them the choice; help them to make sure that as long as they live under your roof, they will be a part of the church.

If you give them the opportunity to decide for themselves, they might think that you really don’t think it is a priority. A great way to get the next generation involved in the church is sending them to winter camp for a concentrated time in the word without distraction (sign-ups begin this Sunday online!). Yet, one thing is for sure: we need to raise up the next generation in the gospel if we are to have a legacy that lasts for the sake of God’s glory.

In Him,

Taylor Mendoza
Pastor of Student Ministries

11.1.2018

Fulfilling a Sense of Community
By Rich Simpson

Hello Church Family,

This last summer I earned my Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University by completing research on the theory of transformational learning. My study involved interviews with small group participants at Northpoint Church. Knowing the robustness of Northpoint Church’s small group adult ministries that includes Sunday morning discipleship groups, growth groups, the men’s and women’s groups, the college-age group, and GriefShare, I sought to discover the transformational learning elements found in these experiences that foster personal transformation. The hope being that these elements could be incorporated into biblical teaching and group meetings to assist leaders and teachers in their planning, execution, and assessment of learning, creating a more transformative learning environment in small groups.

One of the principles emphasized throughout my study was the power and authority of Scripture. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teachings, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While man-made systems and structures could strengthen the biblical learning process, it was for the sole purpose that the power of Scripture be fully realized in the lives of small group members, offering a more holistic approach to leading and facilitating small group transformational learning.

Most of the participants indicated relational elements of their small group that contributed to their transformative learning experience. Although there was an underlying significance of how God would work in their lives through His Word and the Holy Spirit, much emphasis was on the love and care they received from other individuals in their small groups. Further, sharing life and growing deeper in relationships with group members had a significant impact on how participants dealt with their difficult situations. Eight elements or factors of the small group experience were identified as contributing to the change individuals experienced:

Acceptance and love. Many stated how others were patient, encouraging, and non-judgmental to them while going through their struggles.

Care and concern. Participants noted how important it was to them that they knew they had people in their small group who cared about them and were praying for them.

Open and honest. Individuals emphasized being able to wrestle with a difficult situation or struggle while others in the group helped them think through it by coming alongside them with sincerity and open ears.

Shared life experienceSharing life to these participants meant more than just sharing stories. It meant sharing in the burdens of life, coming alongside those that needed it, and going through the good and the bad together as a group.

Deep relationships. Connection and familiarity with small group members played a significant role. As groups met and discussed some deep, intimate issues, stronger, more meaningful relationships were built.

God’s Word. While for the majority of the participants, small group was relational, it was also a time for biblical study and reflection. It was clear from some that a focus on God’s word and how it relates to their lives was an impactful element of the small group experience.

Leadership expectations. Strong leadership, fairness, and consistency amongst the leaders of small groups was a contributing factor, as well.

Comfort. Comfort and confidentiality added up to a feeling that a small group is a safe place and a refuge for the members.

Leaders played a significant role in not only setting the tone and expectations for the group but also being an example members followed when it came to reaching out and caring for others in the group. While the study of God’s word was a central purpose for many of these small groups to gather, there was an underlying focus on sharing life together that really seemed to make a difference. Connecting relationally meant group members being open and honest to share what was going on in their lives and that being reciprocated by others in the group. Being able to share and relate to personal experiences was essential to participants. Five of the identified eight elements that fostered transformation in individuals could be categorized as relational in nature. Quality time spent as a group and sub-groups was critical, as well, giving members ample opportunity to get comfortable with one another. Nearly all participants indicated how important it was for them to make connections with others in the group that would allow for regular support and encouragement from people that were sensitive to their struggles and were not quick to judge.

Participants pointed out that along with love and acceptance came understanding from others and opportunities to give love because they had received love. In this sort of cooperative, life-sharing environment participants’ healing came by listening to others’ struggles and helping them through theirs, as well. This lead to deeper relationships being built as people let down their guards and became vulnerable to others in the group. Over time, within the group, as a member experienced a dilemma, a need to reorientate their lives, or in some way change, the group would be ready to assist that individual. Most often transformation described by participants happened over time, but their small group played a significant part in fostering it.

One of the primary purposes of the church is to disciple, and that learning is fostered through interaction with God, the Bible, and others to promote spiritual growth. Recognizing God’s design for community within the body of believers, my research concluded that the relational elements of small groups, such as love, care, prayer, and connection create a transformative learning environment where personal transformation is likely to take place through the transparency and development of close relationships with others in the group. Jesus himself modeled small group learning as he encouraged regular fellowship with groups of his followers that included time with the larger crowds, the twelve disciples, and his three closest followers. Further, the early church is given the explicit instructions in Romans 12:9-13 to do what this study’s findings reveal:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

It is no surprise that Christians doing what God has commanded them to do has a transformative impact on people’s lives. Deep relationships, the ability for Christian believers to authentically connect and love one another as Jesus loves them, is just as important as small group curriculum and process.

Through small groups, God works in a dynamic rather than narrow way, and I encourage you if you are not already, to get involved in a small group at Northpoint—to get plugged in. We have some great groups here. Small groups are one way the church fulfills its obligation to nurture the spiritual maturity of believers by equipping individuals for the work of ministry so that everyone may be presented mature in Christ. These findings emphasized that by fulfilling the sense of community that God has created us for, small groups shape and change people’s lives.

In Him,

Rich Simpson

10.25.2018
Worship: Our Response to What God Has Done

Hello Church Family,

Easter is one of the biggest holidays in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church—it is a busy day full of rituals and ceremonies. On Easter, believers go to church and perform different kinds of spiritual activities—all under the guidance of the chief priest. At the service on Good Friday, faithful Orthodox men and women kneel down and rise up 100 times or more until they get too tired to continue. This is done in the name of worshipping God and pleasing him.

Another holiday that is eagerly looked forward to and celebrated each year is called Kulbe Gabriel. Kulbe Gabriel is a very famous church. It is a pilgrimage site known for annual spiritual ceremonies and processions held by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Pilgrims travel from miles around to Kulbe Gabriel to fulfill their vows and give gifts to the church in an attempt to please God. Many people walk to this church bare-footed—feeling that this will please God more. The church is located at the top of a hill. Some pilgrims, seeking extreme devotion, carry heavy rocks on their backs up the hill to the church. Oftentimes, by the time these same pilgrims are ready to return home, they are physically exhausted or too sick.

These examples showcase human effort to please God. But they are not successful.

Biblical Christianity is a work of God only. We have nothing to offer God; God has accomplished everything for us in his son. There is nothing we are expected to do to earn God’s favor. All we must do as sinners is acknowledge our desperate need and cast ourselves upon Christ for mercy. We come to God empty-handed, and by faith, we receive the blessing of eternal life. Our status with God does not depend on our righteousness; it depends on Christ’s. He made us alive with Christ and made us his own. He made us new creations in Christ. Therefore, we give no credit for ourselves—only a heart that is filled with worship for God. Having understood our salvation is a gift from God by faith in Jesus Christ, we are left with one response: worship. Our lives should be a continuous act of praise and love for God for his goodness to us in his son Jesus Christ. Worship is not a duty; it is a response and attitude. God does not want our strenuous efforts or our “rocks”—he wants our hearts. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 11:33-36,

 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

In Him,

Tamene Menna
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

10.18.2018
Made Alive
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
– Romans 12:1-2
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 
– 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 
– Philippians 2:13

Hello Church Family,

Are Christians better than other people? Humility, reality, and the clear teaching of Scripture tell us no. We’re sinners like anyone else. Christians have no right God’s blessing. No virtue of our own sets us apart from the rest. We have no cause to brag. God doesn’t love us because we’re somehow special.

So, what makes a Christian different?

Christ.

By faith, we have Jesus Christ, who is someone like no other. Because of Christ, the Spirit of the Living God lives inside those who believe in Him. There is more to the Christian life than a distinct worldview and moral system. Christian worship is more than training our emotions to embrace biblical truth. Christian life and worship is transformational. Jesus is making us new.

Christian worship starts with presenting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice and letting Him make us into what He wants us to be. God’s Word does more than inform us. It changes us—miraculously.

The process begins with changed motivation. God’s Word renews our minds. Pangs of guilt that sting the conscience spur us to deeper dependence, more than they drive us to more fervent action. God works in those who worship Him, and cause us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). In other words, He gives us new wants and desires—the “seedlings” of new life in Christ.

As transformation unfolds, God changes our actions. Forgiveness in Christ brings cleansing to our unholy lives. John’s familiar words assure us that if we confess our sins (when we admit that our sin is sin) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1st John 1:9). Forgiveness doesn’t make sin okay. It makes us different—pure and holy.

Christians don’t conform to the image of Christ. Christ transforms us and makes us like Him. And He does the work. We simply live it out.

Christ also frees us to live in His presence. It’s a dreadful thing to stand in the presence of the living, holy God, who is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Sinners fall before Him, begging the rocks to hide them, but because of Christ’s sacrifice for sin, we stand before almighty God unveiled, unprotected, unhidden. An encounter that used to bring instant death is the daily privilege of the believer. That’s prayer.

And Christ puts us on display before the world. As Christians live openly for the whole world to see, we display the holiness, beauty, and glory of Christ. God makes His appeal to the world through us. Who in the world is adequate to enter into God’s presence then represent Him to the world? In Christ, we are.

Prayer operates in this transformational reality. It recognizes that the Christian life is a miracle that takes place day after day in those who look to Christ in faith. Prayer expects God to answer in ways that shape us into His image to the praise of His glory.

The Work of God’s Spirit
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8
Seek God to renew the transformational reality of the Christian faith in us as a church. Pray for the entire body of Northpoint, and especially for those who are called to minister to us professionally.Pray for …
• An increased sensitivity to God’s truth as we read and study His Word
• A deeper awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit and attentiveness to His voice
• Openness to the Spirit’s conviction that sets us frees from sin
• Confidence in the power of God working in and through us
• Infectious joy in our life and service, no matter the circumstance
• More and more opportunities to proclaim Christ and meet the needs of those around usIn Him,Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

10.11.2018

Let it Go

And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD. – 2nd Samuel 6:14, 20-21

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. – Psalm 149:1-5

Hello Church Family,

Have you ever been embarrassed by someone else’s enthusiasm? Maybe their exuberance was a bit over the top—or maybe way over the top. Almost everything we do brings an element of self-consciousness because what people think of us matters. Sometimes, though, it matters a little too much. Some things are over the top good—worth risking a little embarrassment for unrestrained exuberance.

That’s the story behind the story of David and his wife, Michal. After years in exile, David was on the throne, so he let loose. With all his might, David danced and praised, celebrating the LORD who saw him through his trials.

But his wife wouldn’t have it. David’s enthusiasm for God wasn’t to her taste. Impressions mattered more to her than praise. What would people say? David’s dance of praise was sure to inspire a titter of gossip.

Take a minute to consider. Take your eyes off yourself and count your blessings. Notice God in your life—the life He gave you. Think of the ways He’s protected you. Remember the people He’s placed in your life. Marvel at His leading. Self-forgetfulness brings such freedom! And only when we learn to see God in everything do we come to praise Him for everything.

Pull back the curtain of life’s events and objects, and peer into the heart of the One who put them there intentionally for your sake. It’s hard to have too much enthusiasm for the love of our infinite God. Unrestrained praise flows to us from God’s unrestrained love, and then it flows back to Him again.

Take a lesson from the psalmist’s lavish hallelujah (Psalm 149:1-5). Unrestrained praise …

• Releases creativity. Sing to the LORD a new song.
• Defines who we are as God’s people. [Sing] His praise in the assembly of the Godly.
• Gives direction to our emotions. Let Israel be glad in his maker.
• Finds joy in God’s authority. Let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
• Employs all our resources and faculties. Praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
• Makes us a source of God’s delight. The LORD takes pleasure in his people.
• Trains us to delight in what He’s done for us. He adorns the humble with salvation.
• Trains us to embrace God’s glory. Let the godly exult in glory.
• Brings joy even in our rest. Let them sing for joy on their beds.

Unrestrained praise expands our God consciousness and shrinks our self-consciousness to the praise of His glory.

Reasons to Praise

The habit of praise teaches us to see the truth in David’s words, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm23:6a). Praise pierces through the haze of daily life and reveals God’s hand at work.

• God’s goodness is fundamental to His nature. His mercy flows from His goodness in response to a fallen world.
• God’s goodness does not preclude His judgment on unbelievers nor hardships in the lives of believers.
• God’s goodness is often seen through His mercies, which sometimes come to believers in very ordinary ways and oftentimes is appreciated only in hindsight. (from Tony Chute’s sermon on September 23)

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

* * * * *

8.20.2018

The Key to a Treasure
 
Hello Church Family,
 
“God will be a sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation, and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.” – Isaiah 33:6
 
When Isaiah wrote these words, the people of God were in dire straits. The enemy was literally at the gates. There was a superpower trying to take over their country, and they were acting like they didn’t belong to the ultimate Superpower.
 
We too need a sure foundation for our times, now more than ever. In our world, in our nation, in our church, and in our personal lives we need something steady, strong, and unshakable. God promises to be that for us.
 
God himself is a sure foundation of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. And he doesn’t just give us enough to muddle through with, but he offers a rich store—an abundant supply! Thankfully, he gives us the key to this storehouse of treasure: it is the fear of the LORD.
 
What is it to fear the LORD? Charles Spurgeon defines it as a “fear of offending, disappointing, or misrepresenting, a fear born in reverence, in a spirit of adoration. It is like the fear a son or daughter would have of disappointing or bringing dishonor to a beloved parent, a parent they love, admire and want to be like.”
 
So we fear God when we see him for who he truly is, as revealed in his Word, and we relate to him according to that truth.
 
How do you act toward someone who is the creator and ruler of the universe,
who knows everything and is infinitely wise,
who is all-powerful and able to accomplish everything he plans,
who is utterly good and always does what is best and right,
who is incapable of breaking his promises,
who is full of grace, mercy, and forgiveness toward you,
and who loves you perfectly?
The people Isaiah delivered God’s message to were beneficiaries of a history filled with God’s deliverance. God had chosen to reveal himself to them; they knew who he was, they had experienced his goodness, but they didn’t treat him accordingly. They didn’t trust God like he deserved to be trusted. They didn’t worship God like he deserved to be worshipped. They didn’t obey him like he deserved to be obeyed. They didn’t fear God.
 
God’s people unwisely put their trust in other kings when in reality they were subjects of the King of all creation. Because they didn’t fear God, they weren’t seeing things clearly, they weren’t living in reality. The reality was God could save them if they trusted him, but instead of resting on God, their sure foundation, they were running scared, with no deliverance in sight.
 
Psalm 11:10 and Proverbs 9:10 say,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…”
Proverbs 1:7 says,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”
 
Knowledge is not just an accumulating of facts, but here it means understanding and discernment. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and understanding because when we fear God—when we see him for who he truly is and live in light of that—that is when we are seeing things clearly, as they really are. That is living in true reality. Only then do we have the wisdom and understanding to properly relate to the world around us, to ourselves, and to God.
 
God’s people offended him and misrepresented him to the enemies at the gate when they acted as if God could not defend them, as if God was not trustworthy or powerful. They didn’t fear God and therefore did not relate to their enemy with the benefit of assured deliverance, wisdom, and discernment. However, at the last minute, they repented of their misplaced trust, and God mercifully and graciously delivered them.
 
When we fear God—when we act in alignment with who God is, trusting him because he is trustworthy, sovereign, wise and good—we will experience the truth that God is a sure foundation for our times. God will provide the wisdom, discernment, and deliverance that he knows we need
for our times of political and social turmoil,
for our times of change and challenges in our church,
and for our times of trial and testing in our personal lives.
 
This precious promise is ours because as believers we are united with Jesus, our beautiful Savior in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and salvation. (Col.2:3, 1 Thes. 5:9)
 
In Him,
 
Holli Worthington
 
8.13.2018

The Psalms Album

Hello Church Family,

We are making an album!

On Sunday, September 2, Chelsea and I partnered with several great musicians and an amazing engineer to begin recording the foundational tracks for the Psalms album. The recording session went great! I am so blessed to be surrounded by a community of God-gifted musicians and friends; these brothers and sisters are such a joy to labor and create alongside.

These songs are really special to me. They are really special to Chelsea and me, and to the family of Northpoint. These seven songs embody a season of the church that I anticipate we will hold dear in our hearts. Though our past several months as a church haven’t been easy, there is a certain sweetness that we have experienced in pressing in closer to the body of Christ.

Through the Psalms, we explored places in the human heart where many of us are uncomfortable. Psalm 73 gives voice to a brother who doesn’t understand why the immoral receive earthly riches, while the godly is oppressed. Psalm 77 helps to cry out to God in our anguish. Psalm 54 guides us in rejoicing through God’s victory, and Psalm 90 sings with anticipation, redeem us oh Lord! Return to us!

John Calvin explains that a healthy knowledge of God requires a healthy knowledge of ourselves. In that same spirit, both the church father Athanasius and the contemporary theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer observe: the Psalms are a window into the human experience; a guide to teach the Christian how to turn to Christ in the midst of our experiences and our human emotions.

We were so blessed by our time together in the Psalms this summer, and our hope is that this album will act as a type of monument, a stone of remembrance—so to speak, as we reflect on where God has led us as a church and remember how he has been faithful to us in revealing his love, grace, and comfort through his Word. As we press on as a church and anticipate what God has in store, my hope is that this album would remind us of his faithfulness in the past and encourage us to look ahead as a church, eager to see what the Spirit has in store.

I want to express my deepest thanks to all of you who have been so affirming and encouraging to Chelsea and me in regard to these songs. It is a new kind of courage for us to create something as vulnerable as these and put them on display for the entire church. Thank you so much for your support, your kind words, and your love.

As we come into the final stages of recording this album, we could use some help from our church family. There are some costs that come alongside these final steps. Up until this point, Chelsea and I have been covering these out of our own pockets and we’d be so grateful to lean on all of you to get the project finished. If you so feel led, continue to this link to find out how you can partner with us producing in this album!

There are some cool incentives for pledging to support the album: CDs, bumper stickers, even the opportunity for Chelsea and me to come play a house concert for your growth groups and friends—or Chelsea and I will write a Psalm of your choice! Check it out here.

It is our joy to share this project with you. And with your help, we hope to have the album available by the end of October.

Thanks for singing with us!

In Christ,

Geoff Grant

8.30.2018
Let’s Sing Together
Hello Church Family,
 
Chelsea and I watch old TV shows from time to time. One of our favorites is The Andy Griffith Show. There is an episode, and specifically a scene, that comes to my mind often. The plot revolves somehow around Barney and Andy having a double date, and the four characters gather at Andy’s house.
 
The scene: Andy, playing his guitar and the four of them singing loudly through a selection of their favorite tunes. An evening of entertainment spent singing and smiling with one another; what a blast! Right?
 
Something really perplexes me about our day and age. At this time in history, we find ourselves more surrounded by music than ever. Music in the doctor’s office, music at the grocery store, music in the car ride, and music on the Bluetooth speaker at home. We are surrounded, sometimes bombarded with music. Never in history has music been so accessible. CDs are cheap, the radio is practically free, and constant, online streaming gives us whatever music we want whenever we want it. “All I want is you and … MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC!” (You’ll amaze me if you know that song.)
 
What perplexes me is this: Though we are more surrounded by music than ever, we seem to be singing together less than ever.
 
Sunday morning worship is my primary sample here. Gone are the days when we boisterously sing with all our might (click here to see what I mean) and present are the days when congregational singing is not really well understood. I think there are a few factors to this:
 
1. Individualism
Our American culture is in so many ways driven by and geared toward the individual. The communal nature of singing together can seem foreign and odd. I am more likely to belt out Empty Chair and Empty Tables in the shower than to boldly shout “How Great Thou Art!”
 
2. Consumerism
Most the time when we engage music these days, it is in receiving it, not participating in it. We consume songs, listen to musicals, hear scores in films, soak in the symphony. To contribute to the experience is not usually our first move as consumers.
 
3. Commercialism
Frankly, “Christian music” these days is not geared toward congregational singing. Not without exception, the commercial nature of the Christian music industry is often more concerned with the individual consuming music than the corporate body singing it together. Have you ever been singing in church and you thought, The range of this song is just too high for me! or, I feel like every week I go to church we sing five songs I’ve never heard before! Well, sometimes what sounds best on an album is not what works best for corporate singing.
 
After Jesus and the disciples partook of the last supper, they sang a hymn together (Mark 14:26). Paul instructs the church to sing together in thanksgiving (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16) and so too did Israel sing, well … a lot.
 
So how can we seek obedience in this? What would it be to sing loudly and passionately?
 
Well, to be honest, I am so encouraged by Northpoint. I think we are a rare community, in that we love to sing, we love to worship, and we love to hear each other sing. We have a great building for singing and an amazing team of servant-hearted brothers and sisters who work hard every week to provide a space and atmosphere conducive to congregational singing.
 
We already do a handful of things to make congregational singing a truly corporate activity:
• We sing singable songs
• We sing songs we know
• We introduce new songs mindfully
• We sing in comfortable keys
• We aim to keep the volume at a broadly comfortable level
• We choose songs very carefully
 
I am so thankful to be a part of a church that values singing.
 
Here are some notes of encouragement on how we can even still grow in our singing:
 
• Do not be embarrassed about the quality of your voice – Somewhere along the road, we became over-exposed to professional singers, and that quality became the standard. Hearing a trained voice is a nice experience, hearing a body of bold and passionate Christians is a moving experience. Sing boldly!
 
• Look at each other when we sing – This is a tough one. If you try it, you’ll know what I mean. Due to the individualistic nature of music and especially “worship music,” we often prefer to be in our own little world during singing. When we make eye contact with each other, it sometimes feels weird! Don’t let it! “Address one another with songs! Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord giving thanks always!” We are brothers and sisters bought by Christ; let’s share our love for God with each other, and join our voices as one.
 
• Don’t let the stage fool you – Movies, magic shows, sports games, standup comedy, and lectures. We are so used to the rhythm of the performing being on stage and the passive receiver being in the “audience.” When we gather on Sunday’s we are all active contributors. We sing to God and to each other, we hear from God’s Word, and surrender our being to Him, we all partake equally in the cup and bread, and we fellowship with each other as family. Don’t let the stage fool you into thinking this is a concert or a lecture; our Sunday gatherings are banquets, and Christ himself is the feast before us.
 
Heritage Hymns in Heritage Hall
 
In that spirit, we are going to be holding a Hymn Sing on September 30, in Heritage Hall at 6:00 p.m. The hope of this evening is to join our voices together singing hymns of the faith and enjoying this rich heritage of corporate songs. Hope to see you there!
 
In Christ,
Geoff Grant
Worship Arts Director
8.23.2018
The God Who Waits
 
Hello Church Family,
 
Our God is an awesome God. He answers prayers with incomprehensible wisdom and power. Real and regular people like you and I have received direct and powerful answers to prayer on the spot. Elijah called down fire from heaven. Hezekiah received the destruction of 185,000 enemy soldiers overnight. David brought down Goliath. One hundred and twenty disciples of Jesus received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the church was born. Our God hears and answers our prayers.
 
Our God is also eternal. He answers prayer in His time, not ours. Waiting for God to give His answer to our prayers is a kind of faith “workout.” Peter tells us that strong and pure faith is more precious than gold that is refined in a fire (1 Peter 1:7), and waiting through trials and difficulties is God’s purposeful, faith-building process. But God’s purpose gives us hope and helps us make sense of our experience.
 
Here are some reasons why God waits to give an answer to our prayers:
 
• To include us in His larger plan: When Elijah felt alone when Jezebel refused to give up after his stupendous victory over the prophets of Baal, God told him that 7,000 people remained faithful to Him, and He had Elijah anoint Elisha to continue his work.
• To teach us determined, trusting obedience: God has built His church on people willing to trust Him and follow His ways. The Mayflower Pilgrims, for example, put everything—including their lives—on the line to follow God’s Word, and they lost nearly all they had. But Thanksgiving Day was born out of gratitude for His miraculous provision.
• To show us His faithfulness in everything: There’s nothing our God cannot do, and nothing this evil world does can frustrate His plans or harm His people. Even death holds no fear for us.
• To teach us how to surrender to Him and know that He alone is God: All the evil in this world comes from Adam’s refusal to trust and obey God’s clear command. Christ’s submission to His Father’s will makes hope and redemption available to all who believe in Him.
• To cause us to cling closely to Him: The nearness of God is our good, yet we still tend to stray from Him. Waiting on God draws us back to His side.
• To prepare us to receive His call: It is when we are most convinced that we’re ready for God’s blessing that we are least prepared for His call. Moses tried to deliver God’s people 40 years before he was the kind of man God could use.
• So He can save more people: God’s timeframe is longer than ours, and His horizons are far broader. When we’re ready for Christ to return, He’s still seeking other souls to save. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). 
 
While You Wait …
 
• Remember to rely on the truth of God’s Word.
• Read, reflect on, and trust all it says.
• Connect what God says to what you experience.
• Watch what God does and notice His faithfulness along the way.
• Receive whatever happens as His will.
• Expect God to do good for His own.
 
Essentially, there are four ways that God answers our prayers. Sometimes, He simply says, “Yes,” right away, like Elijah. He also makes us wait to receive what we ask. Or, He may tell us, “Not this, … but this,” and God gives the best gifts when we leave the choice to Him. But there are times when God’s faithful people receive a clear, “No,” when we pray. But He always answers for the good of His children and for the praise of His Glory.
 
In Him,
 
Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
 
– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.
 
The rest of NP News for 8.23.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

8.16.2018

The God Who Hears

“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” – Psalm 116:1-2

Hello Church Family,

The Bible is full of instances of answered prayer. God brings about His plan of redemption through His people, so He pays attention when we pray. Since God’s people play a key role in His plans, our prayers have a special place in His heart. At times, though, God brings us into desperate situations to show us how desperately we need Him. When we ask Him, “Teach us to pray,” He takes it seriously (Luke 11:1b). For example, God called David from being a shepherd to become king of Israel, but also to be the ancestor of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). And so God guarded His chosen one through all circumstances of life—even when he was suffering the consequences of his sin.

When David received the grave news that Ahithophel supported Absalom, his first response was prayer. “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness (2 Samuel 15:31).” And immediately, God provided the answer. A friend came up to David, who was just the right person to undermine the plans of Absalom and Ahithophel.

His name was Hushai the Arkite. Promising complete loyalty to David, Hushai agreed to go back to Jerusalem and pretend to support Absalom. After Hushai won Absalom’s confidence, the usurper included Hushai in his plans and asked his advice. “Ahithophel says we should attack David now, before he can set up a defense. What do you say?”

“I don’t know,” Hushai cautioned. “David is pretty cagey. You’d better take time to gather your forces and get ready.” When Absalom took Hushai’s advice and his, Ahithophel knew the delay would bring certain defeat. As Absalom took time to prepare, his renown but devious counselor withdrew to take his own life. The deception worked. David won in the battle against his own son, and his throne was preserved. At great cost, David’s prayer was answered.

Prayer is so much more than sanctified wishful thinking. Whoever trusts Christ for salvation is a child of God. Christians are more than just another religious group. “[We] are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).”

So much of what happens in our lives is God’s way of testing our faith and showing us what He is able to do for His people. God has a way of teaching us to pray in faith, believing that He will answer.

And He will answer. For the praise of His Glory.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

The rest of NP News for 8.16.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page athttps://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

8.9.2018

I Do Not Cease Giving Thanks for You

Hello Church Family,

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. … – Ephesians 1:15-16   

I want to stop for a moment and give thanks for the many blessings that God has brought to Northpoint and to Corona through the many believers who are part of this wonderful body.

When I listened to Dr. Chute talk a few Sundays past about the signs of health that he sees in our church, I stopped for a moment and considered what I saw around me over the last month or two. I watched a group of wonderful ladies and men come together in just a few days to help put together a memorial service and reception for one of our founding members. The children, who had dispersed over the years, spoke of the kindness and sacrifice they experienced from the many Northpointers who came to serve. I’ve sat among 20-30 members, who meet on campus every Monday evening, as they prayed for God’s work and God’s people. I saw many at the congregational meeting who communicated passionately about Northpoint, calling us to excellence and trusting that God had given us the people, gifts, and resources to fulfill the mission together. I heard the many stories of those who have been overseas this summer, speaking of the powerful work of the Spirit in the church abroad.

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. – Colossians 1:28-29

I then had the blessing of attending one our Restore + Rediscover + Rebuild listening sessions with the members of Northpoint who spoke about their thankfulness for Northpoint’s commitment to the truth of the Word, and to God-glorifying musical worship. They spoke about community and long-term relationships that had produced great fruit in their lives. They spoke about small groups, Sunday school, youth ministry, children’s ministries, missions, and men’s and women’s ministries. I was even more encouraged by the feedback we heard regarding opportunities for improvement. One of the genuine signs of a healthy church is the desire to identify mistakes, needs, and weaknesses, and to then find solutions together. As A.W. Tozer explained in a book of compiled sermons titled Rut, Rot or Revival, if you live with the status quo, your church is headed in the wrong direction. Revival is an important and necessary part of a healthy church’s, and the healthy believer’s, walk in the Spirit.

Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. – Romans 12:1

It is in this spirit of thankfulness, and from a desire to see our body deepen its heart for God’s work, that I urge us to commit our time, prayers, and resources, to taking advantage of this transition. Pray. Pray courageously and often. Pray about where your heart is at and about where God wants to take you. He is perfecting each one of us and calls us to do His kingdom’s work.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

I am praying for all of you that you would know the Lord in His majesty, that your lives would be filled with the Spirit, and that you would be compelled by God’s love for the work of service to the church and to the world. It is in Christ’s name that we pray.

In Him,

Steve Flood
Northpoint Elder

8.2.2018

Christ, the Loving Husband

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:25-33

Hello Church Family,

The glory of God shines in the Bride of Christ. Jesus is at work in His church to reveal Himself to the world, and He shows His love to the world primarily in the way He loves His Bride the church.

Christ is a husband to His people. How does Jesus show His love? His Word expresses it clearly, but He also demonstrates His love in the way He treats His church—the way He created us and the way cares for us and perfects us for eternity with Him.

Christ’s Love for His Church …
Is Sacrificial: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
• Christ would not be denied His Beloved. In obedience to His Father, He gave Himself up to the curse and condemnation of the cross to purchase His Bride with His blood.
Is Purposeful: that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
• Christ gave Himself for the church so He could sanctify Her (make her His alone, holy and pure), by forgiving our sins, as we confess what His Spirit reveals to us through His Word (1 John 1:9).
Is Pleasing to Him: so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
• Christ seeks our infinite perfection and beauty. He died for our sins to make us His own perfect bride. He has a vision of who He intends us to be, and He’s working to perfect it in us. We are a blessing to Christ, and He blesses us so we can be a blessing to Him.

Binds Us to Him: In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.• By making us His Bride, Christ has made us one with Him. He is our head, and we are His body. The church is united to Christ as part of His body because He made us one with Him on the cross and in the resurrection.

Brings Him a Blessing: He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
• Christ is working in us, individually and as a body, lovingly perfecting His character in us. His work beautifies His Bride, who rejoices in her beauty and gives herself to Him out of love.

Shines in Our Closest Relationships: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
• God foreshadowed His plan to unite us with Christ in the essential institutions of humanity.

Is Our Call: However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
• Christ reveals His love in our marriages, where He calls us to imitate His love.
• Pray for our love to reveal and exalt Christ in our homes and in our church.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

7.19.2018

Hear the Word of the Lord
 
“Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!”‘ … So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. … So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” – Ezekiel 37:4, 7-8, 10
 
God’s resurrection power has been active since long before Christ rose from the grave. Ezekiel’s odd but famous story is one of countless examples. Sin brings death but the Spirit of God brings life. 
 
No one portrays God’s restoration of His people quite like Ezekiel. All through history, even to our day, the people of God have cycled into sin and judgment, but God has brought them back to life. From the beginning, humans have chosen death, but God has given life. What He did with fallen Israel after it pined away in exile He has done again and again. And He’s doing it in our day.
 
Human potential is the “false god” worshiped in our day. Confidence in the flesh is bringing death all around us, as our culture puts Christ on trial once again and finds Him wanting. But trust in Christ gives life when His people humble themselves before Him and acknowledge that He is LORD. Together, let’s call on God in the name of His Son to deliver His Church from darkness and restore us to life and health and power to live for His glory.
 
But God accomplishes mass transformation on an individual basis, and he’s filling heaven one soul at a time. Pray also that God will lead you to those around you who need new life. Pray for specific people you know to hear the Word of the LORD through you, so His Spirit can enter them and give them new life.
 
Believe that He can and that He will—through You. To the praise of His glory.
 
“Hear the Word of the LORD” (37:4). God’s Word has power to raise the dead.
• Ask God to reveal Himself at Northpoint through the proclamation of His Word.
• Pray for faith that God will use us to save souls and bring them new life.
 
“I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live” (37:5). God’s Spirit gives life.
• Pray for the Holy Spirit to give life to and through our ministry as a local body.
• Confess our sin of self-sufficiency, and ask for new and dependent life to grow in its place.
 
“And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live” (37:6a), God restores complete health and function to His people (Ephesians 4:15-16).
• Ask God to rebuild Northpoint according to His plan, to reveal His will for our body, and give us eyes to see and hearts to follow His will for us as His people.
 
“and you shall know that I am the LORD” (37:6b). God reveals Himself through His Word and in His work within His people.
• Pray that God will reveal Himself to the world through Northpoint so that all will know that Jesus Christ is LORD.
• Ask Him to put specific people on your heart for you to reach out to.
 
Pray in faith, believing that Jesus Christ is LORD and that He Himself is at work in Northpoint, to exalt His name, by saving the lost and sanctifying believers through the power of His mighty Word.
 
In Him,
 
Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
 
– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, “Prayer Life.” The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.
 
The rest of NP News for 7.19.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

7.12.2018

When the Whole Church Shows Up!

We’ve been having a blast this week at Northpoint’s Vacation Bible School. We had 290 kids from our community officially register (the most in the last 5 years), and as I can attest, they’ve all shown up. What a blessing. Praise the Lord!

This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit, and the kids have been challenged to learn how the Holy Spirit grows the characteristics found in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit, in their lives.

A point of encouragement for me has been watching over 100 volunteers from our church help pull off this major event. So many volunteered, that every role was filled. All of them. I wish I could name and thank each and every one of our volunteers for their dedication and hard work toward making this week so meaningful for these kids, but there are too many! I can, however, name a few main leaders: I want to give a special thank you to Terilyn Brown and Jenn Lemen for leading this year’s VBS. I also want to mention Andria Brucks, Leslie Schuller, Isabelle Cordil, Matt and Amy Beyersdorf, Heidi Holt, and Tri Nguyen for going the extra mile in leading this week.

What has struck me so far is what God can do when the whole church shows up to serve Christ and his church. VBS is one of those events in the life of Northpoint that require so many of you to make it a great success. And our body has shown up. As I have walked the campus these first few nights, I have been so encouraged to see folks from every age and stage in life volunteering in some way. Whether it has been helping with crafts, games, teaching, leading a small group, preparing food, leading worship, or performing the nightly drama, all these volunteers have demonstrated what the heart of Northpoint is all about: serving God to bring the world the saving message of Jesus Christ.

Watching all of our volunteers this week has continually reminded me of this passage from Romans 12: 4-6: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

What a wonderful truth it is that when God calls us to be part of the family of God, he also gives us gifts needed to further his kingdom. Not only does he gift us, but he gifts all of his children differently so that the church can faithfully and effectively fulfill its mission—and praise God for that! Can you imagine the disaster VBS would be if all of our 100+ volunteers all had the same gift? If all our volunteers were teachers, we would we have a 2 and a half hour lecture each night with no games, worship, food, etc. I doubt seriously that anyone would have shown up for day two.

Not only does God give us different gifts, but he also promises that in our diversity of gifts, he will bring unity. Unity that is what we find when God’s people serve out of their various areas of giftedness. It’s a unity in our diversity. As that verse in Romans says: “so we, though many, are one body in Christ.” This is what I have seen during the first 3 nights of VBS 2018. And with 2 evenings remaining, I’m sure I’ll see God bringing our body an even deeper sense of unity as so many serve out of their diverse giftedness.

So thank you Northpoint, for being the church this week and serving so faithfully!

In Him,

Pastor Scott Williams

The rest of NP News for 7.12.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page athttps://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

7.5.2018

“Rejoicing in Our Great God”

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

We were made for worship. John Newton penned “Amazing Grace” after God transformed him from a slave trader and self-described “wretch” into an abolitionist and preacher of the gospel. Christ has freed us all from slavery to sin. Forever in heaven, we’ll delight in giving Him praise and thanks. Worship is our destiny.

Psalm 92 is a great place to start rehearsing for heaven. And now is the best time.

Ways and Reasons to Worship: The abandonment of joy in the Lord —

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!

• Give God the glory for your freedom from sin. Relinquish any claim to personal credit.
• Think of the many ways God gives us to enjoy worshiping Him. Tell Him, thank you.
• Reflect on how God has shown His steadfast love and the many ways He has blessed your life. Give Him praise for each one.

Expectations in Worship: God brings down the wicked and exalts the righteous —

How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O LORD,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

• The only way to know God is through divine revelation and illumination. Praise God for revealing Himself in Scripture and making Himself known in your life through His Spirit.
• Put the wicked into God’s hands and trust Him to deal with them faithfully. Rejoice in the specific things He has done to bring down wicked people and reveal Himself through His people.
• Think of ways God has protected and defended you, and give Him praise for the ways He reigns in your life and circumstances.

Hope for Worship: Rejoicing in the Lord for time and eternity —

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

• Place specific areas of your life in God’s hands, and expect His help and blessing.
• Look to God to make us, His people, flourish in ways that bring Him glory.
• Pray that you will continue to bear fruit for Jesus and proclaim His perfect goodness and righteousness.

A Life of Praise
We live every moment in the presence of a loving God. He is inescapable. Sometimes this thought crowds us with concern. Instinctively, we know our sin, so the scrutiny of the Almighty disturbs us. By nature we prefer our sin, so we find His pristine holiness confining. Little do we know the freedom God intends for His people. Little do we understand the complete abandonment Christ’s blood has bought us. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

A life of praise is a life that is free—and knows it’s free—from sin. God’s law guides us without constraining us. His Spirit makes holiness both possible and desirable. It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). He makes Godliness what we want to do so that all holiness is all freedom.

Prayer for Northpoint
Ask God to set Northpoint free, so His Spirit defines who we are, leads where we go, and empowers all we do.

1. Our Pastors and Directors: Brent Whitefield, Scott Williams, Terilyn Brown, Geoff Grant, Taylor Mendoza, Tamene Menna, and Marti Wiegman.
• Pray for the anointing of God’s Spirit on their lives and ministries. Ask God to use them to equip us for Godliness.

2. Our Lay Elders: Tim East, Steve Flood, Mark Kiker, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zechariah.
• Pray for the anointing of God’s Spirit on their lives and ministries. Ask God to use them to lead us where He would have us go.

3. Our Church Staff: Michelle Balga, Bob Brown, Andria Brucks, Jacob Williams, Carolee Jefferson, Amber McEwen, Mark Norland, Corie Saunders, and Teri Vaughn.
• Pray for the joy of the Lord to be their strength.

4. John Sloan, Brent Whitefield, and their families: Seek God’s Grace and guidance and blessing as they serve Him in the churches where He is calling them.
• Pray for God’s presence with them wherever they go, in whatever He calls them to do.

5. Our Church Body: Pray for the anointing of God’s Spirit in your life and throughout our church.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave writes a monthly Bible reading plan and weekly Bible and prayer focus, “Prayer Life.” The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

6.28.2018

Taylor Mendoza Vetting Committee Update

Hello Church Family,

As part of the “Restore, Rediscover, and Rebuild” process that we’re going through, I want to give you an update on the process. As we have discussed, the Northpoint Elders are recommending Taylor Mendoza be promoted from Director of Student Ministries to Pastor of Student Ministries. Our church’s constitution requires the elders submit a vetting committee, made up of selected elders and Northpoint members, for affirmation by the Northpoint membership. To that end, the elders recently announced the following for the Taylor Mendoza Vetting Committee: elders Tim East, Steve Flood, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zachariah, and Northpoint members Karen Sherwood, Rich Simpson, and Keith Tront. Each of the congregational members was selected because they represent the general make up of our church. Karen has been on the Northpoint staff in the women’s ministry and is a parent of kids in our student ministries. Rich works at Cal Baptist University as the registrar, and for many years, was a youth pastor in Riverside. Keith is a longtime Northpoint member who is well versed in the Word, and who disciples several men here. This past Sunday, the Northpoint congregation voted overwhelmingly to affirm the vetting committee.

The intent of this committee is NOT to rubber-stamp the elders’ recommendation for Taylor’s promotion but to evaluate thoroughly his character and qualifications in light of scriptural requirements (Titus 1.5-9, 1 Timothy 3.1-7, and others).

For it says in 1 Timothy 3:2-7:

“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

While the pastor of student ministries will not be an elder, he will be included on the Leadership Team, which is comprised of both pastors and elders. Previous student ministries pastors were on the Leadership Team, and Taylor’s presence and input there is very much needed. In fact, in many ways, Taylor is already fulfilling almost all the responsibilities of previous student ministry pastors: he leads our high school and Revolve ministries, oversees the junior high ministry associate, Jacob Williams, leads mission teams to other countries, counsels struggling teenagers, preaches occasionally in the main services, and leads communion and baptism.

Calling a man to the role of a pastor is a serious task that requires time. The answer of the vetting committee will be either yes—affirm Taylor as a pastor—or, wait—not yet. The elders’ goal a couple months ago was to be able to vet Taylor in order to present him to the congregation for affirmation as a pastor at the July congregational meeting. Due to the compressed schedule and everyone’s limited availability over the next month, we have decided the best course of action would be to hold a special meeting in the fall to allow the committee the appropriate amount of time to appraise thoroughly Taylor’s character and relationships.

We are excited to see the next chapter that God has for our body at Northpoint, and we are thankful for you as we serve alongside you. Thank you for your prayers and support. We have been extremely encouraged by you. Please continue to pray and trust that the Lord’s will be done here at Northpoint.

In Him,

Vinoj Zachariah, Elder
– On Behalf of the Elders

6.21.2018

Love: Our Relationship with Each Other

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15:12-17

What does love look like? Look at Christ and you’ll see it. Love looks to the good of others and lays down its life to accomplish that good. Love is the mark of the church—the bond that holds us together with each other and with Christ.

Pray for love of this quality to grow in our body at Northpoint, and ask God to produce it in you. Christ-like love is a high command. Look to Christ and He will enable you to live the love He has for us.

The High Command: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
• The love Christ calls us to is sacrificial, and He alone can produce it in us. Trust Him to do it.

Our Closest Friend: You are my friends if you do what I command you.
• Jesus commandment is to love one another as He loved us—by laying down His life for us. Ask God to lead us by faith to walk in love and trust Him with the consequences.

A New Relationship: No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
• In Christ, God is our Friend, and Jesus tells us what is on His heart for us to know. Ask God to reveal Himself to you more and more fully.

Our Call from Christ: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.
• Christ chose and appointed us to go and bear lasting fruit. Expect God to produce His fruit in you—especially Christ-like love.

Our Promise from Christ: so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
• We can expect God to answer our prayers so He can accomplish His call through us. Pray for
increased faith.

Our High Command: These things I command you so that you will love one another.
• Love one another is a command worth repeating and a call only Christ can accomplish in us and through us. Praise God for His patient work to perfect Christ’s character in you.

Love One Another: Things to Remember
• Christ asks nothing of us that He has not already done Himself. He is able to shape us into His image.
• Jesus Christ is your Friend. He is alive in heaven today and right by your side right now and always.
• In response to our prayers, Jesus discloses Himself to us, so we can know Him and His will.
• We are His chosen ones—Christ’s Beloved.
• Christ Himself has promised to answer our prayers. Pray expectantly.
• Rejoice in Christ’s love for us and in us.

Prayer for Northpoint

Ask God to create Christ-like love within you and within our church body at Northpoint. Pray for …

1. Our Pastors and Directors: Brent Whitefield, Scott Williams, Terilyn Brown, Geoff Grant, Taylor Mendoza, Tamene Menna, and Marty Wiegman.
• Ask God to equip them to lead us in loving each other.
2. Our Lay Elders: Tim East, Steve Flood, Mark Kiker, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zechariah.
• Pray for God’s strength and protection on them, so that by imitating them, we imitate Christ.
3. Our Church Staff: Michelle Balga, Bob Brown, Andria Brucks, Jacob Williams, Carolee Jefferson, Josh Figueroa, Amber McEwen, Mark Norland, Corie Saunders, and Teri Vaughn
• Pray for the love of Christ to flow through each one of them as they serve Christ in our church.
4. John Sloan, Brent Whitefield and their families: Seek God’s Grace and guidance and blessing as they serve Him in the churches where He is calling them.
• Ask God to perfect His love in them as they pursue His will for their lives. Pray for personal openness to God’s work in their hearts and lives.
5. Our Church Body: Pray that God will make you open, accepting, and trusting, as He exposes areas in your life where He wants to make you grow.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave writes a monthly Bible reading plan and weekly Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is the latest Prayer Life installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

6.14.2018

Rebuilding at Northpoint

Our Town Hall Meeting and All-church Dinner ended with a sweet time of fellowship this past Sunday evening, and our time together may have been a turning point for our fellowship here at Northpoint. We have been through a lot of changes in the past few months, and we have some challenges to face as we move forward, but by God’s grace and sustaining hand, we are moving forward to “Restore, Rediscover, and Rebuild” our body here at Northpoint Church.We have so much to be thankful for: a strong church family, many effective ministries, and a great staff serving the church, and God will build on this foundation.

Speaking for the leadership team at the meeting, we realized that over the past year we often fell short of who we needed to be—knowing that there is no effort that isn’t accompanied by errors and shortcomings—but in our failures are lessons God desires us to learn. And after praying for guidance, here’s what we think He’s teaching us:

1. Clarity – Going forward, we plan to make our direction and expectations clear from the start. Of course, there will be corrections and adjustments along the way, but it’s always best to have clarity and unity.

2. Communicate – We’re going to improve our communication: more often, more focused on listening, dialogue and discussion. We’re going to going to listen more and seek out as many viewpoints as possible.

3. Relationships – We recognize how important it is to build and maintain relationships, with our staff, with our leaders, with our congregation—and with each other.

4. Expand – We’re going to expand leadership and bring in more voices: we’ll grow the size of the Elder Board, we’d like to add to the pastoral staff, and engage the ministry directors more often to sit at the table and work with the elders on the direction of the church.

5. Labor at the Task – We’re all going to work very hard, and this is a call to all of us, everyone who attends Northpoint. This is a call to labor at the ministry, to love, to support, and to encourage one another.

Restore, Rediscover and Rebuild

Over the next two or three months, you’re going to see gradual changes here, but we’re going to start on restoring our relationships before we move outward to other goals. The pictures and graphics below chart our course together for the months ahead:

Each phase has important goals and they build on each other: as we gradually complete one, we’ll be ready for the next. And as you can see, everyone at Northpoint has a part to play in finding God’s will for our congregation. Please be in prayer about your part as we grow forward together.

In Him,

Tim East, Elder
On Behalf of the Elders


6.7.2018

Abide in Christ

Abide in Christ: Our Relationship with God

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be
full.
 – John 15:1-11Christ calls us to bear fruit in our lives and in the world. We bear fruit only when we abide in Christ. Pray that we at Northpoint will abide in Christ and that He will abide in us, so we can bear much fruit. Pray for Christ’s words for yourself, your family, our church, and whomever God lays on your heart.

•  I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Bearing Fruit is the Father’s purpose. Ask Him to accomplish it.

•  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. Christ’s Word cleanses us. Praise God for your salvation and security in Christ.

•  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. We only bear fruit by being connected to Christ. Pray for a spirit of dependence that remembers: Without Him we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

•  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. The consequences of not abiding in Christ are severe. Ask God for a healthy and holy fear of Him.

•  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Abiding in Christ brings answered prayer and glorifies God the Father. Praise God for using you to bring Him glory. Expect Him to answer when you pray.

•  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. The Father’s love comes through the Son. Abide in Christ’s love by obeying His commandments, as Jesus did.

•  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Serving the Father’s purpose brings joy. Receive the joy He has for you now and forever.

Abiding in Christ: Things to Remember

1. The Father’s purpose is for us to bear fruit.
2. He prunes branches that bear fruit and discards branches that don’t.
3. We bear fruit when we abide in Christ and He abides in us.
4. If we don’t abide in Christ, we are thrown away, wither, and are burned.
5. Abiding in Christ brings answered prayer.
6. Bearing fruit glorifies the Father and proves we are Jesus’ disciples.
7. We can do nothing apart from Christ.
8. The Father’s love flows from Him to the Son and from the Son to us.
9. We abide in Christ’s love by obeying His commandments, just as Jesus kept His Father’s commandments and abides in His love.
10. Abiding in Christ brings us Joy.

Abiding in Christ: Prayer for Northpoint

1. Our Pastors and Directors: Brent Whitefield, Scott Williams, Terilyn Brown, Geoff Grant, Taylor Mendoza, Tamene Menna, and Marty Wiegman;
2. Our Lay Elders: Tim East, Steve Flood, Mark Kiker, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zechariah:
3. Our Church Staff: Michelle Balga, Bob Brown, Andria Brucks, Jacob Williams, Carolee Jefferson, Josh Figureoa, Amber McEwen, Mark Norland, Corie Saunders, and Teri Vaughn
4. John Sloan, Brent Whitefield and their families: Seek God’s Grace and guidance and blessing as they serve Him in the churches where He is calling them.
5. Our Church Body: Ask God to give us the joy of seeing Him accomplish His purpose in us at Northpoint. Pray that we will learn to abide in Him, bear much fruit, and glorify our heavenly
Father.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave writes a monthly Bible reading plan and weekly Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is the latest Prayer Life installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive. 

5.31.2018

Getting Unstuck – A Call to a Shared Vision

Hello Church Family,

King Solomon once wrote, “The toil of a fool wearies him, for he does not know the way to the city” (Ecclesiastes 10:15). A man without direction is a fool who is stuck. In the New Testament, the wise are associated with Christians, and the fools are associated with non-believers. Christians are going to God and His city. In going to God, Christians travel the same ground that everyone else walks on, breathe the same air, drink the same water, pay the same prices for groceries, get the same distresses, and are buried in the same ground, yet with each step, the believer is preserved by God.

However, it is possible to be reminded of the providence of God and yet still be stuck. Even an entire church can be stuck. One visionary, Will Mancini, has claimed the cause for being stuck: “I remind churches all the time that the church in North America is over-programmed and underdiscipled. And in case you are wondering: programs don’t attract people; people attract people.” In other words, many churches feel stuck, yet they run to programs, and not to a vision of disciple-making for the answer. Feeling stuck as a church comes from a lack of a shared vision.

A shared vision gives clarity, inspiration, and conviction. Through much prayer, the key to getting unstuck and remaining unstuck is a shared vision. Much of this has to do with the fact that God is a God of vision. The book of Isaiah is full of pictures of the future that God puts before us. The Minor Prophets, such as Haggai, Nahum, and Micah, are filled with pictures of where God is taking His people. And in the New Testament, we see Jesus giving a vision to the apostles, to Paul, and to the entire church.

There is tremendous power in vision. Consider the powerful illustration of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist, who survived the Nazi death camps of World War II. During his time in the concentration camps, he was sustained by his vision of reuniting with his wife and lecturing after the war on the psychological lessons learned in captivity. Frankl found that vision was a means of survival. Lack of vision meant death, but the power of true vision meant life. Prisoners who had died “lost all hope for a future and were inevitably the first to die. They died less from lack of food or medicine than from lack of hope, lack of something to live for.”

Think of the power of vision that resulted in hope for the Thessalonians. This led to one of the most incredible statements in the Bible made by the apostle Paul: “For we know brothers and sisters, loved by God, that he has chosen you. …” (1 Thessalonians 1:3-5) Paul essentially is saying that he knows with certainty that the Thessalonians are saved. How could Paul make such a statement without seeing what was in their hearts? The answer is in the next verse: “because our gospel came to you not only in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” In other words, the Thessalonians were consumed with a Spirit-given, Word-empowered vision in the gospel that resulted in steadfast hope.

However, the Bible also makes clear that a plan must be set in place to make the vision a reality. It’s been said that vision without execution is a daydream, and execution without vision is a nightmare. Jesus alludes to this in Luke 14:28-30: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” Jesus’ final words are frightening. He implies here that planning is not only good but will spare someone significant embarrassment, massive stewardship problems, and even life-threatening situations.

So if shared vision is the key to getting unstuck, then it’s fair to say that Northpoint Church needs a vision, and not just a vision, but a plan to go along with it. Although I am not paving the way for our vision, my desire for you is that you would be a part of the process of finding one.

Here is how that might look:

1. Receive a vision from God for the purpose of direction. I am not suggesting by any means that we should all sit around or go out into the desert to wait for God’s audible voice, and to await a vision of chariots of fire. I am suggesting that God gives specific vision, perhaps starting with the glory of God, to a church who prays and prays a lot. God is faithful to answer the prayers of His people.

2. Get focused and motivated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as I said before, vision is good but is useless without a practical plan. At Northpoint Church, more than ever, we need all members to serve, give, and minister in the church. This is not to be done by our own ability, but by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. I invite you to take advantage of the summer: serve the church, serve our leadership, make disciples, plan a Bible study, read a book on prayer, and most of all, be satisfied in Jesus.

3. Aim for unity. The vision that I am proposing is not a personal and individualistic vision, but a shared vision. It is not enough for one person in our congregation to have a vision while the rest do not. As a body of believers, we are called to a shared vision because in Christ, unity matters.

4. Remember the unimportance of practically everything. Ministry without clarity is insanity. Think of the number of things Jesus accomplished in his short life on earth, yet he didn’t heal every person, he didn’t cast out every demon, neither did he teach everywhere. God had given him a vision for His people, and He completed it. While He accomplished His vision, it was also the one that was given to Him. Jesus understood the unimportance of practically everything—that is, everything else other than what the Father gave Him to do. In His case, vision involved laying down His life for His sheep.

In Him,

Taylor Mendoza

Student Ministry Director

5.24.2018

An Update from the Elders: Transition

Hello Church Family,

As most of you know, we are in a period of transition here at Northpoint, and this will involve stabilizing and clarifying our ministries focus. While it may be difficult, this is healthy for any church to engage in from time to time. Over the next month, we will be bringing on an interim pastor who will play a pivotal role in re-energizing our efforts to “make disciples who make disciples.” We are hopeful as we watch God’s will unfold over the years to come.

Some of you may have heard that another transition is happening in our staff. Brent Whitefield will be stepping aside from his position as the Pastor of Missions and Outreach at the end of June. God has called him and his family to a new ministry in Florida where he will have responsibility for mobilizing disciples for the work of ministry locally and globally. A number of things relating to this new opportunity made it clear to him that it was the Holy Spirit’s guiding work. Brent emphasized to the leadership team that this transition is not directly related to John’s departure. He reinforces and supports the elders’ efforts to stabilize and move forward. In his seven years here, God has given Brent valuable experiences to draw on as he undertakes his next role in ministry. He will be here for the next few weeks to help make a smooth transition and to continue our teaching commitment in northern India. His last day will be Sunday, July 1.

From Brent:  “I wanted to thank you all for your love and care for my family these past few years and for allowing me to minister and lead. Being a pastor here has been a great joy and privilege, and I have made friends who will be with me a lifetime. I trust that each of you will pray for and support your elders and pastors all the more in the days ahead, and for the wisdom in selecting new leaders to carry on the work of making disciples who make disciples. I believe that as a church, the best days are ahead; I can’t wait to see how God will use this body to be a light to this community and to the nations.”

At the end of this Sunday’s service, Brent will make the announcement. And then right after, the elders will be up at the front to answer questions that you might have about transition plans.

In Him,

Mark Kiker, Elder Chairman – On Behalf of the Elders

5.17.2018

An Update from the Elders: Hard work, Patience, Prayer, and Love

Hello Church Family,

As God continues to work His will and purposes here at Northpoint, it’s a good time to thank Him for providing for us and to pray for His continued guidance and direction. That’s something we can be so thankful for here;  God’s people are praying and seeking Him, which is so important right now.

God has promised to give us His wisdom. As James says so clearly: we should ask God, and He will give generously to all without finding fault—and we are certainly seeking that now.

In this light, we, your elders, want to share with you where we’re heading as a church; while much is still to be discovered, a plan for the weeks and months ahead is coming together.

First, we need to restore and rebuild our trust and relationships, and that’s where we are going to focus our attention right now. Nothing is more important than our love and fellowship based on trust, and changes in ministry can put some strains on those bonds. So for the next month to six weeks, we’ll be working diligently, meeting with leaders, staff, and members of our congregation on this. You won’t see many dramatic changes during this time; we need to renew our strength that comes from unity.

Next, we’ll start to expand our conversations and rediscover who we are and who God wants us to be, what defines us as a church, what are our strengths, and where do we need to do better. Again, we’ll be listening, praying, talking, and perhaps a little dreaming about what God might lead us to be and to do.

During this phase, you will see some gradual changes as we bring in an interim pastor to minister on Sundays and during the week, and we will gradually make small adjustments, especially to improve areas that need shoring up.

The third phase—and this might go through the summer—will be to rebuild. Guided by what we have learned, and prayerfully seeking God, we’ll start to move forward together in clearly defining what we want to be, and begin looking for a new lead pastor.

All of this will take a great deal of hard work, patience, prayer, and love for one another, but every day we see these very qualities being displayed. All around our church the works of the ministry continue: caring for one another, bearing each other’s burdens, forgiving, loving, and encouraging. We are God’s church, we are a loving church, and God has promised us that we will fulfill the good works that he called us to before the foundations of the earth—to His glory and our joy.

In Him,

Tim East
Elder

5.10.2018

Rehearsing the Gospel

Hello Church Family,

Chelsea and I enjoy canoeing more than any other hobby. There is something serenely beautiful about being on the water, slicing the calm with the paddle, hearing the ripples skirt along the boat. As much as Southern California allows us, we try to get out and keep our strokes and skills in practice. Canoeing requires repetition, and canoeing well requires keeping this practice in a regular rhythm. Knowing the strokes and learning how to “read the water” is all incredibly useful information, we’re intentional to grow in those areas and thankful when we do. However, it is the practice, the consistent rehearsal of canoeing that makes this an enjoyable hobby rather than a burdensome workout.

I would propose the same is true of most skills. Whether it is practicing your golf swing, painting a landscape, planting a garden, or building a picnic table, repetition and practice are the driving motions of learned concepts. You could watch a hundred videos on how to throw a curveball, but the theory alone will not produce a great pitcher.

In Paul’s letters, specifically those to the Colossians and Ephesians, we receive a vision for living the Christian life in community. Regularly rehearsing our faith in Christ together. Paul invites the church in Colossae to “take off” their old self, identifying the earthly manner in which they once walked, and to instead put on love. He writes:

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

As James K. A. Smith says, “putting on Christ takes practice” and isn’t it true that we tend to move toward what our hearts truly desire? Jesus seems to affirm this reality as he asks his first disciples, “What is it that you seek?” or “What do you really want?” (John 1:38) and similarly when he thrice asks Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21). This call to put on Christ, to put on love, could be the habituating or rehearsing of our new identity, being in Christ.

This is my desire for our weekly gathering as Northpoint Church. I long to gather with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for the very purpose of:

–    putting on love,
–    letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts,
–    putting on thankful hearts,
–    letting the Word of Christ dwell in us,
–    teaching, correcting, and warning each other in wisdom,
–    singing psalms and hymns together,
–    giving thanks to the Father in Christ.

I have recently become fond of employing the word liturgy in a more broad application. A lot of the time when we hear “liturgy” our minds ping back to “high church,” smells and bells of Catholicism, or rites and rituals of the Episcopalian church; but the term liturgy most simply refers to a particular arrangement of service or practice.

Chelsea and I have certain liturgies we perform when we canoe: we take the canoe off our car in a certain way, enter the canoe a certain way, paddle together in a particular rhythm, stop and proceed using certain set steps, and so on.

Similarly, when we gather to worship, our desire is to rehearse the reality of our identity in Christ. We have liturgies that aid us in practicing this “putting on the character of Christ”. Perhaps you have even identified these rhythms in our corporate worship:

–    we recognize God’s perfect, holy character and his creating power,
–    we recall the fall and remember our past rebellion and our present sin,
–    we celebrate and embrace Christ as our atonement and redemption,
–    we anticipate the future day when all will be made right and we will dwell with Christ himself.

Whether we rehearse these truths and respond to God’s goodness in song, reading, hearing the word, partaking in communion, or celebrating God’s grace in baptism, we desire to habituate bearing thankful hearts in Christ and finding our identity, both individual and collective, in Christ. Amidst all these things, we receive God’s grace, wisdom, and revelation in his Word. We respond in thanksgiving, and we feast on the Bread of Life together.

There is immense value in our gathering weekly to “put on Christ” together. Putting on Christ takes practice, and it can only be rightly done in the presence of other believers. My prayer is that our Sunday gatherings would grow us and aid us in our love for God, our hope in Christ and our dependence on his Spirit.

In Him,

Geoff Grant
Director of Worship

5.3.2018

The Hope of Heaven

Hello Church Family,

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis wrote: “We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about ‘pie in the sky’, and of being told that we are trying to ‘escape’ from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is ‘pie in the sky’ or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no. Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.”

More than half a century after they were written, Lewis’ words still resonate today. In our current sermon series on 1 Thessalonians, we are confronting a community of believers who were not shy or reticent about discussing heaven. In fact, one of the pressing concerns of the apostle Paul in his letter is the impatience of the believers for the return of Christ and their reunion with him. The Thessalonian church was a group of people who had staked everything on the hope of eternity with Christ. They would never have dismissed yearning for heaven as ‘pie in the sky.’ Rather they were a body actively waiting, with great expectation for the return of Christ.

We do not know when Christ will return. We are not invited even to speculate on when it will be. Yet, while it is certain that we are closer to that blessed event than the Thessalonian church was, what is our level of expectation? Are we still a community which is waiting for the Lord with eagerness and anticipation? Does our excitement manifest itself in urgency in witness and service? Do we love Christ so much, that our reunion with him is the most exciting thing we can imagine?

What some dismiss as ‘pie in the sky’ is the great hope of the believer. The Thessalonian church was a great model of what a hopeful community of believers looks like, prays like, witnesses like, and waits like. May God fashion us into a body of Christ-followers who long for his return, our hope firmly fixed on our promised future in his presence.

In him,

Pastor Brent 

4.26.2018

An Update from the Elders

Northpoint Family,

As we continue to work through the transitions that have come to us since Pastor Sloan resigned, we have talked with many of you. We have heard sorrow, confusion, grief, disappointment, understanding, and resiliency. And we see people trusting in God and desiring to pray and serve. Many have defined this as a time of dependency on the Lord and watchfulness as we see His will unfold. We look to Him for guidance, direction, and comfort. As many of you are long-term attendees and members, there is a stability in the fact that our community will continue and we will grow closer to the Lord and each other.

The Sloans are in transition also. Some of you have asked what is next for them. Pastor John has taken a senior pastor position at a church outside of Huntsville, Alabama. He has already begun filling their pulpit and will be planning his family’s move at some point. Pray for the Sloans as they make arrangements.

As we call on God for direction, the elders have devoted themselves to prayer and seeking our next steps. Some of the items discussed include more conversations between the elders, pastors, and our ministry directors. These two groups provide leadership and reflect a servant’s heart as they work with all of you in the harvest fields of our campus and community. They bring insight that will help the elders guide through this time.

As elders, we will be increasing our focus on prayer and providing more opportunities to gather together. You will hear about prayer times that you can join; maybe get a prayer list that can guide your supplications. One such opportunity is the Weekly Prayer Meeting that happens every Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. The group meets either on the Heritage Patio or in the Commons. It is a one-hour, structured prayer time, open to anyone who wants to come. Please consider joining. Call the Church Office for more information.

The preaching schedule has been laid out, and we want to share that with you. Some names might swap around, but here is the tentative outline. As you know, we have begun a series working through that book of 1 Thessalonians. This will take us into June, and we will plan more as we approach the end of the book.

Date               Speaker                  Text
4/29 Brent I Thess. 2:13-20
5/6 Scott I Thess. 3
5/13 Taylor I Thess. 4:1-12
5/20 Brent I Thess. 4: 13-18
5/27 Scott I Thess. 5: 1-11
6/3 Brent I Thess. 5: 12-28

On Monday, April 30, the leadership team will begin to vet the ministry partners that we might bring in to assist. As the Lord wills, these persons or teams will help us map out our steps in seeking an interim pastor. Our denominational leaders are calling this person an “intentional interim,” meaning that the person will have a defined role to play as he preaches, teaches, and helps us along the road toward our next lead pastor. When the new lead arrives, the interim will step away.

Please pray for us, the process, the ministries, and the congregation, as we seek to heal, stabilize, and then move forward. We covet your prayers.  If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please feel free to talk to us, or email at leadershipteam@northpointcorona.org

For the Elders,

Mark Kiker – Elder Chairman

4.19.2018

The Times They Are A-Changin’
 
For our teachers who travel twice a year to minister in NE India, there is in the city of Shillong a coffee shop called Dylan’s Café, that is one of our favorite hangouts. They make a mean plate of pancakes and bacon for those who yearn for some comfort food. The only drawback is that the cafe is an homage to the Nobel-prize winning, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. So as you dine there, you are subjected to more of Dylan’s tunes than any human should be reasonably expected to tolerate.
One of the most frequently played numbers is called: The Times They Are A-Changin’.
 
That song’s refrain readily comes to mind these days as I reflect on the situation in which Northpoint finds itself. There can be no denying that our church has now entered into a season of flux. Our senior pastor has transitioned into ministry elsewhere. We are now without a lead shepherd, and there will be a period of reflection and seeking God‘s will before we identify a new one. Change can be disconcerting, even for those who normally relish it. There can be little doubt that some things will look and feel differently in the future. For those who do not normally welcome change, it can bring a fear that can sometimes be debilitating.
 
Since changes and transitions are inevitable in life, how we respond to them makes all the difference. Sometimes fear can cause us to want to resist or reverse change. This is seldom a healthy attitude. As a church, we always want to be reforming in the direction of greater faithfulness to God and effectiveness in witness. Though we cherish some traditions and do not seek change for its own sake, we seek the kind of change that makes us more like the body Christ intended us to be. We dare not make an idol either of tradition or novelty.
For the Christian, in the midst of uncertainty and change, we find great comfort in a God who never changes. As the people of God, we have the assurance that when we gather, Christ is with us. When Christ is with us, there is no reason to fear. Many times Jesus admonished his disciples not to fear but instead to trust in him.
 
Periods of change can also be a time to engage in healthy reflection and redirection. It is a time to reaffirm and take comfort in the things of which we are certain: God’s love, goodness, and grace, his Word, his preservation of his chosen ones, the hope of eternal life, and much more. It can be a time to re-order our priorities as well. It is more important than ever that we will be committed to God’s word and to prayer. It is more important than ever that we cleave closely to the body of Christ and serve one another. And it is more important than ever that, in a time of necessary reflection, we do not descend into a morbid introspection, but recommit ourselves to reaching out to a world that is lost and desperate without Christ. While we wait patiently on the Lord for his guidance, we do not hit the pause button on reaching out in witness. And while we honor the past and learn from it, we move forward in unity, confident in the power of the gospel. We do not fear that the times they are a-changin’, because we are confident that God is using the period we are passing through to grow us and use us for our good and his glory.
 
In Him,
 
Pastor Brent Whitefield
 
4.12.2018

 

A Message from Your Elders:

Dear Church Family,

To everything God has created, He brings seasons of change, and we are going through such a time now. As difficult as these transitions are, they ultimately work for our good and God’s purposes.

As you may know, on March 11, John Sloan tendered his resignation and is now pursuing his next chapter in service to the Lord. We all are thankful for the years of ministry and leadership that John provided and the transformations we saw in many relationships and individuals. We are also saddened as he and his family move away.

The remaining staff pastors, Brent and Scott, will continue as they have with shepherding, counseling and leading. They, along with others, such as Tim East, Mike Russell, and Taylor Mendoza, will anchor our preaching ministry for the next few months.

Our current framework for moving forward is to bring in a full-time, interim pastor who has the experience of providing wise shepherding to a body that is going through transition. This will happen in late summer and provide a consistent pulpit ministry. We will continue to use our gifted pastors and leaders in the pulpit as well. This transitional pastor may also assist in leading staff and provide administrative support to ministries for continuity. He will then step away once we find our next lead pastor.

We will continue to work with ministry partners who can help us through this transition. We are receiving counsel and assistance from the EFCA Western Region staff. The EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America) has deep resources that will come alongside our elders and pastors. We may be bringing in a team to help us formulate a ministry plan. This effort will take time to reach the recommendation phase. They may do an all-church written/online survey, conduct interviews with ministry leaders, and gather demographics on our congregation and community. We will then focus on the opportunities and suggestions identified by their efforts.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. There is much to be prayerful about. There will be much to research, ponder, and decide. But through it all, we are confident that our great God will show us His unfolding will. Join with us in prayer as we seek Him.

 

Much more will be communicated as we make progress. Feel free to talk to any elder or staff pastors at any time. You can also email us all at leadership@northpointcorona.org.

In Him,

Your Elders

4.5.2018

Each week, our own Dave Dussault writes Prayer Life, NP’s weekly prayer guide. You can get it via email by contacting him at davedussault21@gmail.com, or you can pick up a copy at the Information Center in the Foyer each Sunday.
 
Here’s what Dave sent out recently:
 
God’s Peace
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” — Philippians 4:8-9
 
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” The answer to that question really depends on which mirror we use, and there is a mirror that does more than tell us how we look. It makes us new.
 
Looking into God’s Word reveals the many facets of His glory, and no one who sees the Lord leaves unchanged. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2nd Corinthians 3:18).
 
Time spent with God in His Word and in prayer changes our relationships, renews our spirits, and transforms our character. It teaches us the peace of God as we walk closely with the God of Peace. Remember, spending time with Him is a miracle that Christ accomplished on the cross, when He created peace between God and Man. And day by day, over a lifetime, God is perfecting in our lives the miracle He accomplished in our hearts the moment we were saved.
 
God’s first marching order for believers is to love one another. Time with Him gives believers a shared perspective even when we disagree. It gives a common goal even to people with competing agendas. There is something more important than my wants, my preferences, and my plans. God’s truth and His will take charge in our lives as we read His Word. Divine power and heavenly priorities predominate in hearts devoted to prayer, and we learn to let go of our desires, so we can embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
And releasing our wants frees us to let God take care of them. God doesn’t demand that we not have desires. He assures us of His provision. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). When He says “No” to one thing, it’s so we’ll be free to accept His “Yes” to something else, in His good time. Prayer lives in the current of God’s bountiful, ongoing, and wise provision, as we come to know His goodness at all times and in all things. And that brings peace. A life of peace. “The peace of God” (Philippians 4:7).
 
Time with God also gives us something to occupy our minds. It brings songs in the night, light in our darkness, and hope in times of despair and loss. “Your Word is truth” said Jesus to the Father (John 17:17). Reading God’s Word sets our feet firmly on eternal truth, giving us confidence, by enabling us to discern lies and distinguish truth from falsehood. It turns our souls from going down the wrong path and leads us “in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3), as we turn our thoughts on to things God delights in.
 
• Reflecting on what is “honorable,” or worthy of respect, trains us to value what pleases God.
• Thinking on what is “true,” honest, and reliable equips us to reject what is false, deceptive, and unsteady.
• Occupying our minds with what is “just” conforms our thoughts and values to God’s perfect standards.
• Focusing on what is “pure” cultivates a taste for all things wholesome, with no trace of moral impurity.
• Things that are “lovely” promote peace and harmony with others, dispelling conflict.
• “Commendable” things are well spoken of, because they’re positive and constructive, not negative
and destructive.
• All these qualities are “excellent” and “worthy of praise”—things worth focusing our minds on.
 
Training our focus on these virtues helps us to know what God is like and what pleases Him. Gazing on God through His Word and in prayer—thinking on “these things”—unites us with God and makes us like Him. It also brings peace in our relationships, as vastly different people learn love, value, and eventually display the splendor of God’s character in infinitely diverse ways.
 
To the praise of His glory.
 
The rest of NP News for 4.5.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

3.29.2018

Our TAGD for this week is a reposting of what Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach, wrote for Easter last year. Enjoy.

The Unique Message of Easter

Hello Family,

Easter is a wonderful occasion for Christians. Not so much because it is a “holy day.” As Protestant Christians, we are not altogether comfortable with the notion of holy days in the first place. There is nothing intrinsically more holy about this Sunday than any of the other 364 days on the calendar. Nor does the importance of Easter lie in the fact that it is a “holiday.” Every religion has its holidays, often occasions for revelry that are only thinly connected to the original event that they celebrate. Christians don’t do holidays terribly well anyway. Easter is a fairly subdued event in the West. If you like celebrations with gusto, observe Muslims at Eid, Jews at Purim, or Hindus at Holi.

Rather, the significance of Easter is that it calls us to remember and reflect on the one event that sets the Christian faith apart from every other faith. The one historical fact that, if true, renders all competing truth claims about God false: the resurrection of Christ. All other religions in the world are essentially wisdom traditions: organized attempts, through holy men and holy books, to offer prescriptions for living lives that will please the gods. All the faiths ever devised are man’s attempt to make their best guess at what God is like and what he requires of us. Christianity is unique in that there is no guesswork: we know who God is and what he requires because we know Jesus and what he has done. And through the resurrection, Jesus proved that he is no holy man pretending to be divine, but that he is indeed a member of the Godhead itself. Therefore the word of God is not the shifting sand of human “wisdom” but is a person, Jesus Christ. We can have confidence that his word never changes, never needs to be updated to suit the times of the spirit of the age.

The resurrection is one of the best-attested facts of the ancient world. So well does the evidence line up in its favor, that were it not a miraculous event, nobody would have any doubt about its historicity. And it is this fact that makes Easter the most significant event in the history of the church and the world. It is the thread that holds the whole sweater together. Because the Christian faith is based on the Word of God in the person of his son, Jesus, its whole validity and significance ride on the truth of the resurrection.

Other faiths do not live or die on the basis of historical facts. They can be molded to suit the evolving human view of God. As those who believe in and have staked their eternal destiny on the resurrection, we do not shape God’s Word to suit our tastes. We cannot. Nor do we create our own wisdom, because we have Christ, who is the wisdom of God. As Christians, we do not make up our faith as we go along because Christ is alive and with us by the Spirit of God.

So as you celebrate Easter this week, remember: Christ’s resurrection vindicates all of his claims about himself, it allows us to know, with certainty, who God is and what he expects. Most importantly, it gives us a living hope and an example: proving what Christ has done for us in his victory over sin and death, and showing us how we must then live in light of this truth. Your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members who don’t know of or believe in the Easter message cannot know God or have a relationship with him. And they may never hear unless they hear it from you. Won’t you tell them?

In him,

Pastor Brent

3.22.2018

Curse Jars, Soap Bars, and the Futility of Perfecting the Tongue
 
Hello Family,
 
I hope you’re enjoying this rainy day. My prayer for you this week has been that God would “satisfy you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5).
 
It’s a strange thing to remember, but I recall the scenario like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the back of my seventh-grade class at Clara Weisenborn Junior High in Dayton, Ohio, when, from the front row, a fellow student, Adam, interrupted the teacher for a poorly timed and decidedly unfunny one-liner. The response of the class was total silence. Not even a nervous giggle. To his credit, Adam was undeterred. He thought that perhaps the class hadn’t really heard his joke, so he tried a second time, even louder. Again, crickets. Confused by the lack of response, Adam leaned forward in his seat, backside entirely off the chair, and uttered his joke again, with even greater confidence, only this time both the teacher and the students turned to him with daggers in their eyes, as if to say, “Enough!”
 
After about a three second delay, taking advantage of the tension in the room, I whispered loudly and sarcastically to Adam, “Say it again.” The class erupted with the sort of snot-bubbled screeches that junior high kids produce when trying to bridle belly laughs.
 
That was the worst thing that could’ve happened to me. I spent the next two years of my life trying to duplicate my comedic success, blurting out rejoinders, comments, and ill-advised jokes to little avail. My poor teachers didn’t know what to do. They got a hold of my mom, and said, “We just love John; he’s a great student, but he will not stop talking at inappropriate times. He cannot control his tongue.”
 
Well, that was thirty-three years ago, and I would like to tell you that once I made it through junior high, I never made another poorly-timed comment; I’d love to tell you that since then I’ve never spoken out of turn, made a sarcastic remark, or hurt someone with my words, but unfortunately, mastering the tongue is not a battle that any earth-bound person ever totally wins. The consequences get larger, and the words we use may change, but the struggles remain. To be sure, if we open our mouths, we will sin.
 
The Scriptures have much to say about the control of the tongue, or the pervasive lack thereof. The book of Proverbs warns us that “when words are many, sin is not absent” (Proverbs 10:19). When Isaiah meets the Lord in his temple, the prophet summarizes his sinfulness this way: “Woe is me! … I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). When the Apostle Paul presents that powerful and poetic indictment of all human sin and rebellion against God in Romans 3, he says this: “None is righteous, no, not one … they use their tongues to deceive. … Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
 
When the biblical writers want to make a case for the complete brokenness of humanity, they start with an area of sin that no one has conquered: the use of our tongues.
 
So what do we do with this area of weakness? Well, certainly, there are some practical efforts that we can (and should) employ, for example:
 
:: Pause before speaking, and evaluate the intent of your words before you say them.
:: Establish a pattern of complimenting other people.
:: Endeavor to “put off” those words that cut, tear down, or destroy.
:: Resolve to say only things that build up other people, and show grace to them.
:: If you tend to use profane language, ask someone else to hold you accountable when you sin.
 
These are helpful and God-honoring practices that we should commit to. However, the first and quintessential step in taming the tongue is recognizing our complete inability to do so in our own strength.
 
This inability is meant to drive us to Jesus, who controlled his tongue in every way and in every circumstance in our place. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
 
A friend of mine says that pulpit malpractice is preaching the imperatives without reminding your audience of their inability and need for Christ’s obedience on their behalf. Yeah, but you say, “Won’t preaching our inability discourage people from even trying to obey?” The answer is: yes … it will discourage them from trying in their own strength.
 
New Testament scholar, Daniel Doriani, says: “The tongue daily demonstrates both our sinfulness and our inability to reform ourselves.”
 
Curse jars and soap bars may occasionally deter one from uttering a mean-spirited or profane comment, and if you feel like they’re of help to you, by all means, use them. But true progress is rooted in increased brokenness, greater self-suspicion, a deeper dependence on God’s grace, and the recognition of who we are in Christ.
 
Christ has made us new. The Holy Spirit now resides within us. God loves you (even when you curse). And the more that we completely depend on the power of God through prayer, and recognize God’s steadfast love for us, the more we’ll actually experience growth. Growth in humility. Growth in patience. Growth in love for others. And growth in holiness, even in the way we use our tongues.
 
In Him,
 
Pastor John

3.15.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Scott Williams, Northpoint’s Pastor of Adults and Families.

Heart Motives

A few years ago, I heard a message that changed my perspective on sin and the struggle with sin. Dr. John Henderson gave a talk here at Northpoint to many of our churches leaders, and he started off his remarks with this: “Whatever rules your heart rules your life.” He went on to explain that in Scripture, the heart is seen as the home base for all our meaningful thoughts, feelings, and actions, and that ever since the Fall, our sinful nature is rooted in the heart. Often times, when we discuss sin, we define it too narrowly by only thinking of it in terms of specific actions. Sin is not just specific actions that we do, but it also involves our deeper motives and desires behind those actions.

For instance, look at what Jesus says in Matthew 15:17-20: “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” One of the things that Jesus is emphasizing here is the location from which all sorts of sin flows: our actions flow out of the desires of our heart. So, in order to truly deal with our sinful actions like slander, theft, or sexual immorality, for example, we must look for change at the heart level.

This can only truly begin, of course, when we become a Christian. Upon trusting in Christ, the Scripture says that our heart of stone is taken away and we are given a new heart. Upon salvation, one of the things that happen is that our motives and desires are renewed. However, on this side of heaven, we will still battle with our old sinful ways. Paul says in Galatians 5:16-17: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.” According to Paul, the believer now lives in the very real struggle of either gratifying the desires of flesh or gratifying the desires of the Spirit. This, then, brings us back to Dr. Henderson’s astute observation that whatever rules your heart rules your life. In other words, if we live gratifying, or being motivated, by selfish motives, then it is sin that is ruling us. But if we live gratifying the desires of the Spirit, then it is Christ who is on the throne of our heart.

What are some of those sinful desires that can rule our hearts? There are many, but here are a few: we can be ruled by lust, which, broadly speaking, is the desire, or craving, for something that is outside our grasp. Lust can be seen as a craving for approval through money, sex, status, possessions, and the list can go on and on. We can also be ruled by a sense of fear of losing whatever we do have. In that case, our lives are ruled by a fear of poverty, suffering, disapproval, disrespect, or loneliness, for example. Yet another selfish desire that can fight for the rule of our heart is the desire for pleasure, or comfort, where we seek out only those things that satisfy that need.

While each of these desires at some point fight for the rule of my heart, the one that resonates most is pleasure. And not just not just in a physical sense, but in the sense that I can tend to evaluate the things in my life through the grid of, “Is this pleasing to me?”

Employing Dr. Henderson’s observation opened my eyes to a whole host of ways that my heart is motivated and ruled by a sinful desire to be pleased. I am pleased to be proven right. I am pleased to be liked and respected at church. I am pleased when I can come home to a quiet home, which with three small kids, rarely happens. I am pleased by music that speaks to me. I am pleased when a sermon points out the sin in others but not my own. I am pleased to be in control when I want to be, and not in control when I don’t want to be. I am pleased when my wife wants to watch “Suits” instead of “Call the Midwife.” The list of things where I seek comfort and pleasure can truly go on and on.

How often do many of us evaluate our marriage, our friendships, our work, and maybe even the church, through the sinfully selfish grid of, “Is this pleasing to me?”

BUT HE GIVES MORE GRACE. What beautiful hope-giving words those really are. It is so encouraging to know that God not only forgives our wretched self-seeking and self-pleasing ways, but he also supplies us with that which will be truly satisfying and pleasing through Christ. In fact, it was Christ who promised to give us living water so that we might never thirst again. It is only when Christ is on the throne of our heart that our motives will be driven by him, and when we will find our satisfaction in him.

In Him,

Scott

3.8.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach.
 
A Promise-keeping and Preserving God
 
Recently, I had the privilege of accompanying a group from Northpoint to visit Israel and Jordan. The trip was a wonderful experience on many fronts: it was a great opportunity to make new relationships, to enjoy good food, and to see places of significance in biblical history. For me, there were so many takeaways from the trip that I would need many pages to describe them all.
 
One of the most impressive things for me was the opportunity to view the Promised Land from many different heights and angles. Looking out at Israel from the vista of Jerusalem, or from the ancient city of Megiddo, or from across the river Jordan at Mt. Nebo (where Moses first espied it) is an inspiring experience. At the same time, we were able to learn about and appreciate the history of the land and its people. Ultimately, I went away more impressed than ever with the steadfastness of God in keeping his promises to a particular people in a particular place. The promise of God to Abraham: that he would fashion from him a people of his choosing and would preserve them in a land he had prepared is the fulcrum on which rests the whole Old Testament narrative.
 
Of course, God could have chosen to raise up a people for himself on a remote Pacific island, where they would have been protected from any possible peril. The land that he chose for them, Israel, is the opposite of that. It is a place which has been a crossroads throughout human history. It has been the bridge between Africa, Asia, and Europe for as long as mankind has traveled, traded, and warred. The land is difficult to defend and easy prey for large, powerful armies. It is a piece of real estate that has been fought over so often, that in a place like Jerusalem, for example, there are at least 15 different layers of civilizations for archaeologists to dig through. Throughout history, the people of Israel have never been the most numerous, and rarely the most powerful people in the region. They suffered exile and subjugation at the hands of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans; and those are just the ones before the time of Christ.
Yet God’s work of preservation and restoration on behalf of his people is a miracle at which we should marvel. No doubt, you have met many Jews in your life. But have you ever met a Canaanite, Amalekite, or Hittite? Those people, though they were in their day, larger and stronger than the Israelites, have been consigned to the trash heap of history. The people of Israel are unique in their survival since prehistoric times. Though his people were often unfaithful to him, God has always proven faithful to them. And though they often failed to acknowledge it, the people of Israel owed their very existence to God’s miraculous undertaking on their behalf. Nothing else can adequately explain their survival. Yet from time to time, God chose to remind his people that it was his grace and not their strength or skill that won the day.
 
On the road from Galilee to Jerusalem, you may pass by the spring of Harod. This is the place where God instructed Gideon to cut down his army from 10,000 to 300 men. Tactically, of course, this made no sense; they were facing a Midianite army which was already larger than theirs. But God wanted to prove something to the people of Israel. He said to Gideon: “The people who are with you are too many for me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’” Though the Israelites could not help but see that it was God who won their battle, their memory and gratitude were short-lived.
 
For those of us who are in Christ, the new people of God, we succumb to the same temptation all the time. When we achieve something, we are tempted to give all the credit to ourselves. Part of growing in Christian maturity is understanding that we owe everything to God, and the victories that we achieve are achieved in his power and his power alone. And the benefit of doing this is that we see the faithfulness of God showcased again and again. In Christ, God has made a promise to us, and it is a promise that he will keep. If we persevere, it is because he has preserved us; when his promise is kept, it is because he is faithful, not because we are. This way of thinking requires humility. But aren’t you glad that your spiritual survival is not dependent on your own strength, skill, ingenuity, or faithfulness?
 
In Him,
Pastor Brent
 
The rest of NP News for 3.8.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

3.1.2018

Thoughts Inspired by Diminutive Heroes

Hello Family,

I have been praying for you this week, that God would “strengthen you and show you a sign of his favor” (Psalm 86).

I have a sister who lives in Middle Tennessee. She and her husband have a house on 27 acres of wooded land, which includes a volleyball court, a basketball goal, hiking trails, a barn, and even cows. It’s a veritable hillbilly Disneyland. So most of the time there are more than enough options to keep nine kids—her five and my four—occupied when we visit.

However, the last time we made the cross-country trek, it rained almost every minute. Literally. And I’m not talking about the gentle spritz that we experience as Southern Californians; I’m talking about bone-drenching, bucket-filling, baseball-sized drops, the kind that soak your clothes in a matter of seconds.

So, as parents, we were huddled in the living room trying to figure out what to do with all these kids. Since six were teenagers at the time, we knew that just about every suggestion would be met with, “Meh. That sounds boring.” So we said, “Let’s go to the movies.” The first showing of the day was pretty cheap—a prerequisite when you’re buying a total of 13 tickets!—but we only had two choices: Minions and Ant-Man. The overwhelming choice was the latter. Since movies about superheroes who shrink down to the size of a bug and ride on the backs of giant ants to save the world from evil yellow jackets don’t tend to stick with me very long, I don’t recall much about that story. But I do remember one line, where the villain says as he faces impending doom, “The things I’ve done can never be forgiven.”

Even though it was a movie for young adults, I think that sentiment is one that people of all ages share: there are things that I’ve done that can never be forgiven. Who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another? I hear this statement as a pastor all the time. And I get it.

This week, our ladies of WOW studied the so-called Parable of the Prodigal Son. And I heard that Holli Worthington did a terrific job of explaining it. It’s a powerful story of rebellion, restoration, mercy, and forgiveness.

But it’s not the first of such kind in the Bible. Not by a long shot.

The book of Hosea gives a similar account concerning the children of Israel. Repeatedly, they run from God, dishonor him, “whoring” themselves out to cult prostitutes (Hosea 4:12-14.) They show no regard for the Lord who redeemed them. Instead, they worshiped and sacrificed to gods of wood and clay.

Consequently, throughout this book, we read about God’s horrific judgment that he promises to bring on his people for their idolatry, and he does, in fact, discipline them severely. But following every one of God’s judgments, it seems, are reminders of his steadfast love and the completeness of his forgiveness.

Every time God says, “I’m going to wipe you out because of your idolatry,” he says afterward, “But how could I destroy the people I love. I won’t let you wander off forever. I will woo you, and win you back to me. My love for you will never fail. You will be called mine again.”

Every time the people of Israel repented, God instantly forgave them. There was no sin too great; no offense too egregious. One Old Testament scholar says, “There is no hesitation in the divine response. It is almost as if God longed for the occasion to speak of salvation rather than judgment.”

We might say it this way: there is a relentlessness to God’s forgiveness. God delights in restoring his wayward children. It’s almost as if he cannot wait to do it. To be sure, God is not impetuous; he never gets swept away by his emotions, but his love is real. It is deep. It is rescuing. It is freeing. And his forgiveness is boundless. To his perpetually recalcitrant people, God says:

“I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow” (Hosea 14:4-7).

Perhaps you can relate to the conviction that your sins are beyond forgiveness. Take heart: God’s forgiveness is yours in Christ. Completely. You don’t have to earn it or even show that you deserve it. Our God is one who loves to forgive the repentant; he is eager to lift up the broken.

By God’s grace, he yearns to mend our broken hearts are restore our hope. This is not a consequence of willpower or doubling down on our efforts to be better. Instead, it is accomplished by the Lover of Our Souls, the one who allows us to say, “Great is thy faithfulness.”

In Him,
Pastor John

 

2.23.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Steve Flood, one of Northpoint’s elders.

The Body of Christ – One Body, One Family, One Heart for Each Other

To start our conversation, I want to share a few thoughts about my family at home. As the father of three daughters, I have enjoyed watching three completely different young ladies growing up in front of their mother and me. Laura and I are amazed that there can be so many differences when they have all grown up in such similar circumstances. Their personalities, interests, and gifts take them and us in so many different directions. The same can be said about my marriage with Laura. Our differences are both a strength and a challenge at times. At the end of the day, however, our entire family comes together to eat around the same table. In our diversity, we understand and appreciate that we are still one family.

My family at home is a simple example of family, but it is not unlike the body of Christ. Each one of us being a son or daughter of one Heavenly Father. From 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, we read: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The entire chapter of I Corinthians 12 addresses this reality in much greater detail.

From this, we learn that our Father delights in diversity, and at the same time, sees us in unity. It is in Christ that we have become one. And, it is by the Spirit that this happens.

We must contrast the life in Christ with the world’s effort to produce a similar unity. If you have lived in the world for at least a decade or two, you realize true spiritual unity is alien to the world. It desperately desires unity and peace, but in its attempt to nurture tolerance and peace, it produces division and tension. The difference between the two is in the One we are longing to satisfy. In Christ, the object of our affection is our God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. In the world, the object of our affection is the self or a personal worldview we expect the world to conform to.

It is important to understand these two distinct realities because living a life with God and our Christian family as the objects of our affection will be realized in its fullness when we are in heaven with Christ and with each other. In Colossians 3:1-4 we read: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

We are to live our lives here like we will be living them in heaven. Paul calls us, in Colossians 3, to put on the new man (and woman) that we will be when we are with Christ above, in glory.

What will this reality be like? In one word, it will be love. In John 13:35, we understand that Christ’s disciples are known by their love for one another. We are told in I Corinthians 13 that when everything else has passed away, faith, hope, and love will remain (the greatest of these is love), and finally we see love in Colossians 3:12-17: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

The language of the new covenant in Christ is a language of family, a language of relationship, and a language of love, which necessarily characterizes our family. As we are conformed to His image, we prefer and serve one another, giving glory to God in the presence of man, and building up the Body of Christ unto maturity. And, when He finally calls us home, we will take our new nature with us, having already become one with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am thankful for each of you, and I pray that the body of Christ would be a pure reflection of His love for us.

In Him,

Steve

2.15.2018
The Lord Is Our Banner
Dear Family,
There’s something spectacular about the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. At least I think so. Friday night, my husband and I tuned in to the opening ceremonies of the XXIII Olympic winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Tom lasted about 5 minutes before turning his attention to his iPad to scan his favorite news sites. But even he had to admit that the Olympic rings made of 1,200 drones were pretty amazing. Or maybe he was just excited because the ceremony was drawing to a close.
My favorite part of these events is watching the teams of ecstatic athletes march into the stadium under the colorful billowing banners of their countries. Smiles beaming, arms waving, selfies snapping—this is a moment they will remember for a lifetime. And every time I see Team USA enter the arena lead by the Stars and Stripes, each of our athletes proudly adorned in red, white, and blue, I can’t help but be moved by a wave of pride as well.
 
A banner or flag is something that identifies and unifies a particular group of people. It’s often used in situations far more serious than a game, with much more at stake than a medal. In military settings, a banner can serve as a rallying point for troops. Soldiers embroiled in battle can reassemble around their banner to find protection, receive aid, gain strength, and obtain orders to continue striving for victory.
How fitting that one of the names of God in the Old Testament is Jehovah-Nissi, which means, The Lord Is Our Banner. It only appears once in the Bible, in Exodus 17. The event takes place not long after the Israelites are miraculously delivered from Egypt by the mighty hand of God. Journeying through the wilderness, they come under attack from the Amalekites, a brutal and warlike nomadic tribe.
After 400 years of living as slaves, fighting a war was not something in the skill set of the Israelites. Under God’s direction, Moses assigned Joshua to marshal a band of soldiers from this fearful bunch. Meanwhile, Moses stationed himself on top of a hill overlooking the armies below. In his hand, he held the staff he used to strike the Nile, and God parted the waters saving his people. It was the same staff with which he had struck the rock at Horeb, and life-giving water flowed, enough for all the people.
Clearly, this battle was an unusual one. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel would win, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek would gain the advantage. As the hours wore on, Moses’ arms grew weary. So his brother Aaron and another man named Hur stood beside him, one on either side and held his arms steady. So together, Moses was able to hold the rod of God high until the sun set. That day, the people of Israel won an overwhelming victory over Amalek and his people. Talk about an unexpected upset!
This was a moment Moses wanted the Israelites to remember for a lifetime. There was no doubt as to who the true Victor of this battle was. Exodus 17:15 reads, “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, ‘The Lord Is My Banner.’” It was to remind them that though they were weaker than their enemies, God would forever be their refuge and strength.
The New Testament describes our lives as believers as athletes in a race or as soldiers in battle. And as Christ-followers, we have a banner that goes before us, the King of Kings. In his name, we are identified and united. In the battles and struggles of life, we look to him as a rallying point, our place of strength, safety, and direction. The banner of the Lord is not a mere symbol; it is a promise of strength, power, and salvation. And the insignia on this banner is love.
So, are you feeling a little on the weak side considering the obstacles before you? Let us run to our God, our divine rallying point; and there find all we need to be victorious in his power and might and for his glory.
Under his banner of love,
Marti
 
2.8.2018

 

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Geoff Grant, Northpoint’s Worship Director.

Why Choir?

Hello Family,

Last fall, the Northpoint elders made the decision to apply some philosophical changes to the Northpoint Choir (for a summary of those changes, click here). Since then, the Northpoint Choir has been gathering and working to apply this philosophy. In leading the choir last season, I experienced a joyful community of singers who exude a vibrancy in worship and a zeal for remembering and celebrating the gospel as we spent time tuning our hearts and tuning our voices to serve the congregation in corporate worship.

Well, amidst these changes, I have had several thought-provoking and encouraging conversations. Often coming from people who have noticed the change in choir philosophy, these conversations could often be summed up with the question: “What then, is the purpose of the choir?” Before I answer, I have to say that I personally love choir. I love the sound of voices in harmony, dissonance, unity. Given that, I want to try to be objective in painting a vision for choir, as I am tempted to mix in my own love.

I am reminded of a passage in Nehemiah after the Israelites finish building the wall. Ezra and Nehemiah build up two choirs to lead the people of Jerusalem in singing God’s praise. The Hebrew phrase here that translates to choir is also often also translated as the company of them that gave great thanks. Ezra and Nehemiah each follow a different group of singers to different sections of the wall to “offer great sacrifices and rejoice, for God had made them rejoice with great joy… and the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”

I love the phrase, the company of them that gave great thanks, (as clunky as that is), and I love what that presses on our philosophy of choir. See, when we gather every week to study God’s Word together, we sing songs and hymns, pray together, collect the offering, fellowship, etc., we, the whole church, are this company of them that give great thanks. We gather to rejoice and to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice that has been made on our behalf: Christ. God has made us to rejoice; he has restored us! In a sense, the entire church body is the choir. We gather week after week to proclaim and celebrate our gracious God. We gather to feast on Christ, to place his selfless love before us, and to embrace his righteousness and acceptance as our true identity.

But what does this have to do with the Northpoint Choir? Okay, I’m getting there. But first some clarifying points.

The Special Song

Hebrews 10 tells us that the only pleasing offering to God is Christ. No works we do, no ritual we frequent, no beautiful song we sing is a worthy offering to God. The ultimate purpose of the choir is not to, in some way, contribute a fragrant offering of music to the Lord. When the choir sings a song for the congregation’s listening, that practice, in and of itself, is not what is glorifying to God. What is glorifying to God in this scenario? The hearts of those both singing and listening, contemplating the sacrifice of Christ, confessing their need for Christ, opening themselves to Christ, surrendering their priorities, desires, preferences, schedules, and relationships, etc., all to the lordship of Christ, is glorifying to God. This is the highest value of a special song. 

Beautiful Music

It is important to remember that God is not interested in how beautiful our music worship sounds. In fact, he is explicit to say, “Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters. And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” God is interested in our hearts, not our beautiful music. One could make an argument that God values beauty, which is demonstrated in his creative character (Genesis 1) and his attention to aesthetic detail (Exodus 25-30). But in the economy of new covenant, Christ-purchased, corporate worship, the values are different. It isn’t the beauty of our praise, but rather the brokenness of our praise that is a delight to God. So we can rule out that the purpose is to make our worship more beautiful or better for God.

“Well That Was Lovely”

Further, when the choir does something outside of leading corporate singing, like a reflective or devotional song, its end is not met in merely filling a time gap, or offering a moment of pleasant listening. What does the song point to? Our hope is that it will merely stir our affection for God. If it is beautiful, let us rejoice in God’s beauty. If it is difficult and dissonant, let us reflect on the fallenness of the world and give voice to our need for God. If it is thought-provoking, let our thoughts dwell on the ineffably gracious mind of Christ.

Ancient Future 

The Northpoint Choir does not exist merely to maintain a tradition. Rather, we remember, cherish, and honor the past, embrace and celebrate what the Holy Spirit is doing in the present, and eagerly anticipate what the Spirit will do in the future. I have been so encouraged by our corporate worship and the choir’s faithfulness in leading us. I am excited and ardently anticipating what the Spirit has in store as we continue forward in this new season.

To best understand the purpose of our Northpoint Choir, it is helpful to call to mind the purpose of our corporate gathering. In brevity, we gather corporately to:

  • Dwell in the proclamation of God’s Word
  • Confess our need for Christ
  • Remind each other of the gospel
  • Express our thanksgiving for Christ
  • Unify our hearts, in Christ
  • Encourage one another, in Christ
  • Celebrate our union with Christ

Another way it could be said is this: “We sing corporately to form our love for God and to be formed by our love for God.” – Isaac Wardell

At it’s finest, the Northpoint Choir will simply lead us into this celebration. It will aid in pointing the gathered congregation to Christ. The choir is a set group of brothers and sisters who sing with us on Sundays, whilst embracing this understanding of corporate worship. The choir will hunger and thirst for Christ and encourage the gathered body to do the same. Everything the choir does will ideally conform to these ends. Now, we will fail at this, as our flesh loves to impose its own will. I will fail at leading in this, as I can scarcely go minutes without sinning; my need for Christ is equally present on the table as everyone else—and THAT is the point! My hope and prayer for the choir is that God will build a community of singers and Christ-lovers who will be quick to praise, quick to confess, quick to repent, and quick to give thanks.

YOU have the opportunity to be a part of this community! Would you consider joining the Northpoint Choir?

Perhaps, you’re reading this saying, “I don’t think I’m quite there; I might be too proud or too opinionated to lead in this kind of gathering.” Well, if you are actually thinking something like that, you’re probably the perfect person to sing in the choir. Why? Because you’re proud and opinionated? No, everyone is proud and opinionated. What we desire are brothers and sisters who see their sin, recognize their need for Christ, and who want to invite others to do the same.

This season, the choir will rehearse for four Wednesdays (6:30 p.m.-8:15 p.m.), will lead corporate singing for three Sundays, and will lead the congregation in the Good Friday service. If you are interested in joining the Northpoint Choir, please send an email to me (Geoff Grant) at ggrant@northpointcorona.org.

In him,

Geoff

2.1.2018

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Hello Family,

Not long ago, Jenine and I walked into a local Jack in the Box, and we were surprised to see a separate kiosk from which a patron could order if he didn’t want to wait in line to talk to an actual person. (I know what you’re thinking: What possessed you to eat lunch at Jack in the Box? I’d have an easier time explaining the Trinity than answering that question.)

But this is a fast-growing trend. I just read an article this week in USA Today that revealed McDonald’s plans to open 1,000 new restaurants worldwide, and many will be equipped with self-service ordering systems.

Now, I’m not against expeditious food service or line-free ordering, but I do fear that our natural proclivity toward impatience is being pumped with steroids because, in part, of the speed at which we get the things we want. We are so used to pushing a button or even just making a voice command, and we are instantly accommodated.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m no Luddite. There are plenty of incredible benefits of technology. With Bluetooth, for example, I can call a friend, search for a song on my iPhone, and probably even take a selfie, all while driving (for the record, I’ve never tried the latter).

But here’s what’s happened: we have amalgamated so many cultural values to our everyday lives—one of those values being speed—that it’s become almost impossible for us to wait. For anything. And we want in the spiritual domain exactly what we have in the technological domain: instant gratification.

We’re not interested in persisting. And we’re certainly not interested in discipline.

Well, prayer is a discipline. It takes focus and patience. Martin Luther called prayer “the hardest work of all,” because it’s a spiritual act, done in the spiritual realm, where real, intense battles take place.

That said—at the risk of sounding melodramatic—tonight we go to war. Tonight we engage in spiritual battle, appealing to the Lord to hear us and answer our prayers. It will take effort and focus, but we believe that God will attend to our pleas.

Will you join us at 7:00 p.m., in Heritage Hall? It’s a small investment (only one hour), but the reward could be incredible because “we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:14-15).

See you tonight,

Pastor John

 
1.25.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Scott Williams, Northpoint’s Pastor of Adults and Families.

A Clean Heart

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:10-12

Hello Church Family,

This past week, I just happened to go on a long walk by myself on Tuesday night. There was the need to get some exercise, and also the need to just get away with the Lord. As I walked and talked with the Lord, listening to music on my iPhone, a playlist brought up “Create in me a Clean Heart” by Keith Green, that wonderful Christian singer from the 70s and 80s.My first thought was: Wow, this is an old song! But as I listened to Keith sing the words of Scripture, based on Psalm 51, I was immediately flooded with memories of a younger me. The first time the power of these lyrics hit me, I was singing the song in youth group (yep, that dates me a bit). Back then, there was such honesty in Green’s confession for needing a “clean heart,” a “right Spirit,” and to have the “joy of salvation” restored to him. As I walked last week, I remembered those times in youth group when I first trusted in Christ, first realized the depth of my sinfulness, and the first time I experienced the joy that only Christ can give. Those lyrics were part of what drew me to the Lord, and one of the reasons may be that we sang the song over and over again. It seemed like every time we met, we had to sing it, but even so, God used it to shape me and draw me to himself.

Now, fast-forward a few decades later, and the words from “Create in me a Clean Heart,” still resonate with me today, perhaps more so, as I now know Keith Green drew them from the original author, King David, in Psalm 51. David is described as being a man after God’s own heart. He walked many years with the Lord, and yet, he still struggled with sin and discouragement; he needed his joy restored. He was also prone to going his own way, living for himself, and seeking comfort in temporary pleasures. What a reminder this is, that no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, our heart still needs a good cleaning from harboring attitudes of self-reliance, finding comfort in other places, and seeking other joys. I know that can be true of me. Too often, I can come home and want to be left alone to watch the news, surf the Internet, or just decompress. Thinking that these temporary escapes will somehow restore and refresh me is certainly not true. When I give an honest assessment of myself, I see someone who all too often, works, parents, plans, leads, and relates out of a spirit of self-reliance and self-centeredness. As a result, I am left exhausted, frustrated, irritable, and sometimes joyless.

The verses from Psalm 51 offer hope. David penned them knowing full well, that God would not cast him aside, but would, in fact, restore to him the joy of his salvation. I am reminded every time I read or sing these words, that our God is faithful to redeem and restore those of us with dirty hearts. There is no greater joy than the joy that comes from being in God’s presence. What great words of hope: “restore unto me the JOY of your salvation.” They describe the total blessing and the intimate and personal relationship with the Lord. They describe a relationship that will uphold each of us in our struggle with sin and self-reliance.

So if you don’t have Keith Green on your playlist, then shame on you! Not really. But take some time this week to ask God to do his cleaning work in your life and to restore the joy that comes from being a child of the King.

In Him,

Pastor Scott

1.18.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach.

Why Human Life is Important to God

Hello Church Family,

This week, we will commemorate Sanctity of Life Sunday, affirming our stand for the dignity and worth of human life, and against the practice of abortion. The sanctity of human life is, of course, something that we should and do celebrate every week as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what are some specific ways that we can participate as we reflect on the sanctity of life this Sunday?
Pray:
The most important thing that we as Christians can do is to pray. We need to pray for a revival in our land that will bring people to Christ, and in changing their hearts, give them a new concern and care for the unborn. We need to pray for our political leaders, who have it in their power to make changes, to pass God-honoring laws that protect the most vulnerable in our society. Pray for those who participate, one way or another, in the abortion industry to repent and seek forgiveness from God. Pray that the day will come when abortion will be so uncommon that a sanctity of life Sunday will no longer be necessary.Support:
Secondly, we should support the work of places, such as Corona Life Services, who offer a Christian alternative to abortion. Organizations like CLS are under tremendous pressure to water down their life-giving message to comply with godless government directives. Pray that they will have the courage to stand up for their convictions, and the ability to continue to operate with the spirit of Christ. Pray that the families with whom they interact will not only turn away from abortion but turn to Christ as Savior. We can also support them financially, through attendance at events and fundraisers, and with volunteer hours.Act:
As Christians, we can be agents for change through participation in the political process, organizing and attending marches and rallies, raising awareness about the cause. We should not be silent on an issue that is so near and dear to the heart of God. We should be thankful that through political advocacy, abortion has become more restricted in many states over the last few years, and the total number of abortions has been going down. We can hope that through continued, concerted action, the tide may turn decisively against abortion in our land. But our advocacy should not stop at the condemnation of abortion. We must also help with the alternatives. Namely, we should be at the forefront of advocacy for adoption, the most attractive alternative to abortion. Christians should adopt children themselves, support Christian adoption agencies, and provide support for adopting families. Recognizing that we ourselves have been adopted into God‘s family, we must always treat adopted children as first-class citizens in our midst.As we take time to reflect on the sanctity of life this Sunday, let us remember why human life is important to God: because we were fearfully and wonderfully made in his image, and reflect, however imperfectly, his glory. In upholding life, we glorify God, which is, after all, the chief end of man.

In Him,

Pastor Brent

1.11.2018
This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Marti Wiegman, Northpoint’s Director of Women’s Ministries.
 
Who Do You Say Jesus Is?
 
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
Last Sunday evening at the Golden Globes Awards, Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. Her impassioned and inspiring acceptance speech had the audience on their feet and the national media buzzing about a potential presidential run.
 
There was a lot to admire in Oprah’s speech, but there was one thing she said that really caught my attention. She made the comment that, “speaking YOUR truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” as if truth is a personal thing—you have your truth and I have my truth. That might sound good but it’s not sound thinking.
 
Sadly, this concept has found its way into the church. A number of years ago, the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life published a major study on religious beliefs and practices in the United States. One of the more significant finds was:
 
• 70 percent of all Americans believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.
But perhaps the most surprising discovery was:
• 56 percent of all evangelical Christians believe that many paths, other than faith in Christ, lead to God and eternal life.
 
More recently, LifeWay Research at the request of Ligonier Ministries (founded by R. C. Sproul) conducted a similar study with more stringent criteria. The study singled out those who called the Bible their highest authority, who said personal evangelism is important, and who indicated that trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross is the only way of salvation.
• Yet nearly 50 percent agreed that “God accepts the worship of all religions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.”
 
The author of the article reporting on this LifeWay study made this observation: “The most striking thing is how many of these folks evidently see no contradiction between their casual universalism and the evangelical creed that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.” (G. Shane Morris, “The Federalist,” October 10, 2016, “Survey Finds Most American Christians are Actually Heretics”)
 
In our society today, it seems so progressive to be accepting of everyone’s truth. But Romans 1 warns that when we reject God’s truth for our own ideas, proclaiming how wise and sophisticated we are, we actually become fools. It’s important to hold to a sound understanding of what truth is, including the related reality that opposing ideas can’t both be true.
 
For example, we all understand that you can’t say two plus two equals four, but also equals five and nine and sometimes 23. In the same way, you cannot bring contradictory statements of faith together and say that they are all true:
 
• Hindus believe there are hundreds of thousands of gods.
• Buddhists will tell you there is no personal God who can be known at all.
• Muslims believe in Allah, but he is not the God of Scripture, and they deny the death and resurrection of Christ.
 
Obviously many churchgoers today still think that there is room for more in heaven than Christ followers—for God-seeking people who do good and help others, whatever they call themselves. The Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Mormon, or just the nice guy next door who likes the idea that God and heaven exist but doesn’t believe much more. Certainly, a loving God wouldn’t do anything so horrible as to send good people to hell just because they put their faith in a power by another name than Jesus Christ.
 
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he called out in agony to his Father, “If there is any way for this cup to pass from me, spare me.” And God sent an angel to encourage and strengthen him to endure the cross he had to face. Why? Because there WAS no other way, and there IS no other name, whereby we can be saved.
 
In Women of the Word, we have been studying through the book of Luke. This past week, we looked at chapter nine where Jesus turns to his disciples and asks them life’s most important question: “Who do you say that I am?”
 
Peter speaks up on behalf of the team and answers, “You are the Christ, the Messiah sent by God to be our Savior.” That’s the only right answer. Because Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life.
 
So let me ask you: Who do you say that Jesus is? It’s a question we all must answer, and that answer will impact us for eternity.
 
Let’s stand firm in God’s truth, in our hearts, in our church, and in our community. This is the truth—the good news: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in HIM should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
 
Living together in truth,
 
Marti
 
The rest of NP News for 1.11.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

1.4.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Tamene Menna, Northpoint’s Pastoral Assistant. Tamene holds a PhD from Talbot. He and his wife, Tigist, have three children: daughter Lelena, and sons Liam and Lucian.

Praying Together

Hello Family,

I grew up in Ethiopia, which is located in eastern part of Africa, also known as the “horn of Africa.” Ethiopia was a communist country for about 17 years. Many of the churches during that time were underground fellowships where Christians were harshly persecuted by the communist government. During these trials, the Christians met and prayed together for hours. Through corporate prayer, those Christians received the strength to remain faithful to Christ in the face of persecution and trial. Under similar circumstances, corporate prayer was central in the life of the church in the first century. The early Christians used to worship and pray together in the temple, in the synagogue, and in their house churches. Prayer matters individually and as a church body—we pray because we believe God is at work!

Speaking of praying together, one of the things I love about our church is it’s commitment to prayer. It has been a great joy for me to pray together with brothers and sisters in Christ who are passionate about seeking the Lord in prayer. The upcoming all-church prayer meeting (see below), led by Pastor John, is one of those holy places where we come together as one body to intercede for one another, our church, our ministries, and community.

Opportunities for prayer include:
• Church prayer meeting on Mondays @ 6 p.m.
• Pre-service prayer meetings on Sundays @ 8 a.m.
• Women’s prayer gathering on Wednesdays @ 11:45 a.m.
• Hour of Prayer, February 1 @ 7:00 p.m., Heritage Hall

I would like to invite you to join us!

In him,

Tamene

The rest of NP News for 1.4.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

12.28.2017

A New Year’s Prayer

Hello Family,

A little over a week ago, Jenine and I went shopping to buy Christmas gifts for our four children.  Our goal was to start and finish this (daunting) task in one day, even if it meant staying out late to do so. When we arrived at our first destination, the Tyler Mall in Riverside, Jenine asked me, “Where do you want to begin? Do you want to start in a men’s section and try to find something for Quinn and Luke?” My immediate response was, “Where’s our list?” Jenine said, “You know how hard it is to shop for teenagers; I don’t have a list. Hopefully, we’ll see something that we think they’ll like.” I then replied, rather curtly, I’m sure, “Without a list, I have no idea where to even begin.” (I apologized later for my rudeness.)

I’m a list-maker. This is how my brain works. Writing things down helps me think with greater clarity and remain focused. This is one reason that I sometimes write out my prayers.

To be sure, God desires our unrehearsed and unguarded communion with him. As John Bunyan once wrote, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” I echo those sentiments. However, if we’re not careful, we can get in a rut and neglect some of the key elements of biblical prayer (e.g., worship, thanksgiving, confession, supplication).

Biblical prayer should be both spontaneous and planned. Heartfelt and prepared. Sometimes we cry out to God when we don’t know what to say and trust that the Spirit of God will intercede for us, which he does (Romans 8:26). But on other occasions, it’s beneficial to write out our prayers or even pray through words that others have penned, such as the Puritan collection, Valley of Vision, or Kenneth Boa’s Praying Through the Scriptures. Written prayers help us to focus on what matters most to God.

With that in mind, I’ve included below the prayer that I prayed this morning. Rooted in and enriched by the aforementioned Valley of Vision collection, it is both a guide and a sample of one way to write out our prayers. I’ve changed the pronoun ‘I’ to the plural ‘we’ so that we can pray it together, even while we are in separate locations.

May God stir within our church in 2018 a greater dependence on him and richer joy in him than we have yet to experience.

In Him,

Pastor John 

Our Father,

We come to you now in desperate need of your sustaining power and endless grace. We have been hasty and short in our private prayer; we have been quick to rely on our own strength and planning; we have subtly moved you to the periphery. Awaken our hearts to feel this folly; to rue this lack of understanding of you and of ourselves.

Our first sin of the day, our insistence on autonomy, leads to many others: the neglect of those around us who are in need, the presumption that we are justified in our thoughts and actions, a lack of love for our neighbor, and worst of all, a lack of love for you.

Our reliance on our strength has led to countless failures on our part. Lord, help us. Keep us this morning from robbing you of the worship you desire, and of which you are alone worthy. Keep us this morning from having lofty notions of ourselves, while entertaining thoughts of you that are mundane, and ordinary. Keep us this morning from giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt, while questioning your every motive. Keep us this morning from praising you with our mouths, while remaining spiritually aloof and disconnected.

With our voices we sing praises to you, and with our mouths we proclaim you as Lord, but our hearts are slow to feel. Gratitude eludes us.

Father, forgive us as we have dishonored you with our priorities, allowing our minds to be captivated by temporal things, while remaining unmoved at thoughts of your kindness. Your holiness. Your salvation.

May we never forget that you have our souls in your hands. You uphold us by your strong right hand. You give us everything we need, and indeed, so much more than we deserve.

Remind us of your unfailing love. Impress upon our minds the merits of Christ’s atoning work for our sin. Enable us to believe. Grant that through the lens of repentance we may see more clearly the beauty and sufficiency of the cross. Let your mercies draw us to yourself. Cause us, by your grace, to long for your coming.

Father, enable us to rest in this: to all who confess their sins to you, you are faithful and just to forgive. This is our assurance: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ; in Christ, we are free indeed. When you forgive, you remove our offenses as far as the East is from the West. For those who trust in you alone, nothing shall separate us from your love: not trials, nor victories, not failures, not successes, neither valleys nor mountaintops. For you keep us for yourself.

Be our portion. Give us more grace. Stir our souls to trust only in you. There is no peace so rich as to rest in the finished work of Jesus, the only one through whom we dare approach you, and the one in whose name we pray. Amen.

12.21.2017

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Taylor Mendoza, Northpoint’s Director of Students Ministries

Does the Bible tell One Story?

Hello Family,

In the fall of 2012, I was a freshman in the Bachelors of Applied Theology program at California Baptist University, where I experienced an awakening. One of my professors consistently used the word, meta-narrative when he referred to the Old Testament’s story arc. The phrase meta-narrative literally means master story or the biggest story.

My professor told us that the Bible tells one cohesive story from Genesis to Revelation. Even though there are many stories captured in the 66 individual books in our Bible, God was telling us one story. Much like Sauron’s Ring of Power in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, my professor argued that there was “one story to rule them all.” For example, it is not a coincidence that the biblical story starts in a garden (Genesis 1) and ends in a garden-city (Revelation 22).

Today among theologians, the idea of a master story is all the rage. They are wrestling with the question: Does the Bible tell One Story? The answer is an enthusiastic yes! The Bible was written by a myriad of human authors ranging from Moses to Paul. Yet, at the same time, 2 Peter tells us that no human author wrote on his own. The Holy Spirit inspired these men to tell one cohesive story (2 Peter 1:19-21). You could say that the Bible has one Divine Author, namely God himself.

Beginning to look at the Bible as one story may help you put your Bible together. It may cause you to see things that you may have never seen before. It takes your Bible reading from black and white to Technicolor. It brings clarity and shape to your understanding of who God is; what He is doing; and where this world will end up. Understanding the big story is the secret to finding Jesus in the Old Testament. And it is the hinge on which you can understand all of world history.

My modest yet revolutionizing proposal for you is this: Try Reading the Bible as one big story. Today, most theologians are in agreement that the one big story is “God’s wonderful plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.” Kevin Deyoung, who has written an excellent children’s book on this topic called, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher brings us back to the Garden, begins in Genesis and moves to Revelation painting a picture that explains the beauty and power of Christ in all the Bible. His book is highly recommended and a must-read for this upcoming Christmas morning.

Another way to think about this master story is to divide the Bible into four major chapters. Chapter 1 is Creation. Chapter 2 is The Fall. Chapter 3 is Redemption. Chapter 4 is Consummation. This was wonderfully displayed and masterfully articulated in our recent Choir Christmas Concert. The Christmas season is all about entering into God’s chapter of redemption.

Creation (Chapter 1)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth (Genesis 1:1). God is the creator of both the natural and supernatural world. God has always existed in perfect love (Ephesians 1:1) and has always been one, yet distinct in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God spoke and out of nothing the world came into being. He created man and woman in his image (Genesis 1:28) and gave them a purpose best articulated in the Westminster Confession: To glorify God (by) enjoying him forever. Adam and Eve enjoyed God with personal interaction and unhindered praise. God dwelt among his creation without separation or void.

Fall (Chapter 2)
Yet, despite all the wonders of creation, our first parents disobeyed God and exchanged the glory of God, for their own glory (Genesis 3). They were removed from the Garden of Eden, death entered the world, the relationship between Creator and creation was severed, and humanity no longer enjoyed God by glorifying him. Since then, not a single person has avoided sin, but rather all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23). Paradise was lost. The wages of sin was death (Romans 6:23). Hell, along with eternal punishment, destruction, and banishment are the result (Revelation 19-20). And now all of creation groans inwardly longing for some sort of redemption (Romans 8).

Redemption (Chapter 3)
But God being rich in mercy and because of his great love, poured out his grace by bringing good news to those who have fallen (Ephesians 2). God has provided a way of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The perfect Son, the perfect solution, the perfect man would die a gruesome and humiliating death on a cross in order to redeem that which was lost (John 3:16; Col. 2:9; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ has paid our debt, he took our punishment as our substitute, and he became our blood sacrifice washing us clean. The snake crusher crushed the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:18-20) and bought at the price of his own blood his chosen people.

Consummation (Chapter 4)
The ultimate gift of such a redemption is the promise that we get God back. We are reconciled to God (Colossians 1:21-22). In the near future, all of heaven and earth will sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy. Worthy is the Lamb who was Slain!” All of God’s people from every tribe, language, nation, and country will stand together in worship to their great God (Revelation 7). And God will wipe away every tear, make all enemies his footstool, and create a new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22). Best of all, we will dwell with him again and we will see his face.

As you read your Bible ask yourself the question: How does what I am reading fit into the biggest story? What chapter am I in? Now, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ illuminate the Scriptures for you in such a way that you glorify him even more.

Merry Christmas!

Taylor

11.26.2017

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Scott Williams, Northpoint’s Pastor of Adults and Families.

‘Tis the Season to Be … Busy!

Let me ask you a question: Have you, in the last few days, weeks, or months, been tempted to answer the question of “How are you?” with the answer, “I’m doing good, but things are just really busy”? In today’s culture, busyness is almost seen as a sign of value. The notion is the busier you are the more important you must be. But let me just suggest to you that in our business, we can actually be robbing ourselves of some of the spiritual and relational fruit God wants us to receive.

When Jesus taught the parable of the sower, he made a very vital observation about how the things in our schedules can choke out our spiritual lives (Mark 4:1-20). In this parable, the sower threw seed, which represents the Word, on different types of soil, which represent the state of people’s hearts. One of the soils where the seed falls seems to be good and the seed even begins to grow until the thorns come. They make quick work of the new sprout and choke it out and it yields no fruit. In verses 18-19, Jesus says: “And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” The worries of this world, and the desire for more and more things can have a devastating effect on our spiritual lives. Most of us in the church won’t fall prey to rank apostasy or heresy, but we all could be derailed by the worries that life may bring, and the desire to find our happiness in material things.

Pastor Kevin Deyoung, author of Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, in remarking on this passage says it well: “Jesus knows what he’s talking about. As much as we must pray against the Devil and pray for the persecuted church, in Jesus’ thinking the greater threat to the gospel is sheer exhaustion. Busyness kills more Christians than bullets. How many sermons are stripped of their power by lavish dinner preparations and professional football? How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still enough to learn from them? How many times of private and family worship have been crowded out by soccer and school projects? We need to guard our hearts. The seed of God’s Word won’t grow to fruitfulness without the pruning of rest, quiet, and calm.”

So as we enter into this glorious (but busy) Christmas season, let’s make sure we take time to let the seed of the Word sink a little deeper into our hearts. The adage, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” isn’t just a cute rejoinder, but it is what we need to remember and reflect upon. Not only do we need to remember that he is the reason for this season, but that he is the reason for every season. Let us continue to take time from our busyness to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Fighting busyness isn’t an easy task and it often takes the help and encouragement of other believers. That’s why this spring, all of our Growth Groups are going to be encouraged to read Kevin Deyoung’s aforementioned book. His work isn’t a “how to” on becoming less busy, but a needed explanation of the reorientation our hearts need to make as we fight against the dangers of life’s busyness. So be on the lookout mid-January in the Northpoint Foyer and pick up your copy of Crazy Busy.

By his grace,

Pastor Scott